This Week’s Drought Summary
With a few notable exceptions, the past week was mostly dry in the contiguous U.S. Heavy rain fell in southeast Texas this week, where large parts of ongoing drought or abnormal dryness saw improvement or full removal. Widespread precipitation of over a half-inch fell in the Pacific Northwest, though this was primarily in areas not experiencing drought or was not enough to result in improvements to drought conditions. Heavy snow fell in a localized band across parts of western Kansas and eastern Colorado, totaling 27 inches at Mt. Sunflower, Kansas. Snow also fell in the Denver area. These snow events allowed for improvement to ongoing severe and extreme drought. A powerful Nor’easter dropped heavy snow from eastern Virginia northeast into southern and eastern New England, though most of this snow fell in areas without drought. Mostly dry weather continued in Puerto Rico, where moderate drought expanded and severe drought was introduced. After heavy snow in December helped to build up high elevation snowpack in the West, particularly in California, very dry weather took over in January across much of the region, halting improvements to drought conditions and raising concerns about lagging snowpack if the drier weather continues as forecast. Finally, it should be noted that the large-scale winter storm affecting the central and southern Great Plains, Midwest, and parts of the eastern U.S. from the afternoon of February 1 through February 4 will not be accounted for until next week’s map.
Widespread heavy rain fell this week in southeast Texas, leading to improvements in ongoing moderate drought and abnormal dryness there. Otherwise, the week was mostly dry across the region. Extreme drought developed in parts of northern Louisiana and southern Arkansas and northeast Texas, and some ongoing extreme drought areas expanded in this region as well. There, short-term precipitation deficits worsened, and soil moisture and streamflow decreased. Severe drought expanded in south-central Texas and north of Lubbock, while extreme drought north of Lubbock shrank in coverage due to lessened precipitation deficits there. Widespread extreme drought is ongoing across much of northwest Texas and western Oklahoma, with a narrow strip of exceptional drought present in the western Oklahoma Panhandle and northeast New Mexico. Burn bans remain in effect in parts of the Southern Plains, where the winter wheat crop is also struggling.