This Week’s Drought Summary
A powerful winter storm last week, stretching from New Mexico to Maine, helped improve drought conditions in 17 states in its path. Meanwhile, another week of dry weather in the West put a halt to drought recovery. Parts of Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Oregon saw drought expand as the recent dryness on top of long-term drought chipped away at snowpack and lowered streamflow. A wet December left most other parts at near normal for the season, but concerns are growing as dry weather remains in the forecast.
Much needed rain brought by last week’s winter storm improved drought conditions in parts of all six states in the region. Precipitation totals of around 1 to 4 inches – more than 300% of normal in some areas – fell across much of the region helping to reduce short-term rainfall deficits and improve streamflow and soil moisture conditions. Texas saw a wide band of 1-category, with isolated 2-category, improvements. In parts of South and West Texas, the excess moisture was enough to chip away at the long-term drought. Other areas seeing improvements include eastern Kansas, eastern Oklahoma, southeastern Louisiana, and southern Mississippi. Widespread drought remains in the region. Despite last week’s weather, parts of Texas and Louisiana saw expansions of drought. These areas missed out on the heaviest rain, increasing moisture deficits. In South Texas rainfall deficits are approaching 5 to 6 inches (less than 50% of normal) over the last 3 months. In southwest Louisiana, they are about 7 to 10 inches (less than 50 % of normal) over the same time frame, reducing streamflow and drying soils.