This week’s drought summary
While most of the country received light precipitation at best last week, large totals fell on a few areas. Over 1.5 inches fell on the south half of Mississippi and the central Gulf Coast Region from Louisiana through the Florida Panhandle, with totals of 4 to 6 inches dousing parts of southeast Mississippi, southern Alabama, and coastal Louisiana. Totals also exceeded 1.5 inches in parts of the central and southern Florida Peninsula, with amounts reaching 6 inches in parts of the southern Peninsula and along the eastern coastline. A few swaths in the Upper Midwest recorded 1.5 to 3.0 inches, specifically from central to northeastern Minnesota, across much of Wisconsin and the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and from northeast Kansas and southeast Nebraska into southwest Iowa. Beneficial moderate to heavy precipitation also fell on parts of the Northern Rockies, northern Intermountain West, and Pacific Northwest. Most of the Nation west of the Appalachians, however, saw light precipitation at best. Precipitation was a little more widespread over the Appalachians and along the Eastern Seaboard, but most areas received subnormal amounts with only isolated patches reporting moderate to heavy precipitation.
On the whole, some areas of dryness and drought in the Southeast, the Upper Midwest, the northern Rockies, and the Pacific Northwest felt improvement over the course of the week. In addition, rapid snowmelt quickly recharged soil moisture and boosted streamflows from the Dakotas to the western Great Lakes Region, prompting improvement in some areas. But most locations experiencing abnormal dryness or drought saw conditions persist or intensify, with deterioration to D3 or D4 (Extreme to Exceptional Drought) noted in some areas across the western Florida Peninsula and the southern half of the Great Plains.
Heavy rainfall also eased dryness and drought from southern Louisiana eastward into the Florida Panhandle. Moderate drought there is now restricted to southeastern Louisiana, where substantial multi-month precipitation shortfalls remained despite a wet week. Elsewhere, Tennessee and the Lower Mississippi Valley remained free of dryness and drought, as did eastern Texas and southeastern Oklahoma.
A tight gradient exists from near normal conditions in the aforementioned areas to extreme or exceptional drought (D3-D4) over portions of central and western Texas and Oklahoma. Beneficial rains fell on Deep South Texas and southeastern Texas, bringing limited improvement, but a dry week for most of the central and western sections of Texas and Oklahoma meant conditions persisted or deteriorated there. Most locations across central and northern Oklahoma have 3-month SPEI below the 5 percentile threshold, with 90-day precipitation 3 to 5 inches below normal.
As of April 16, the Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin reports 53 percent of Oklahoma winter wheat and 52 percent of Texas winter wheat crops in poor or very poor condition.