This week’s drought summary
Last week featured a highly variable precipitation pattern across the contiguous states. Over 3 inches of rain fell on broad areas across the central Appalachians, central and southern Virginia, parts of the northern and central Carolinas, much of New England and the adjacent Northeast, parts of Florida, the central Gulf Coast Region, the lower and middle Mississippi Valley, the Upper Midwest, the southern Great Lakes Region, and the central Great Plains. Between 5 and 7 inches soaked some areas in the southern tier of Arkansas, areas near the central Alabama/Mississippi border, the Florida Panhandle, and southwestern Virginia. In contrast, very little precipitation fell from the Rockies westward to the Pacific Coast,, the Dakotas, Oklahoma and western Kansas, most of Texas, central and western Louisiana, part of the Illinois Valley, the Tennessee Valley, the interior Southeast, parts of the upper Ohio Valley, most of the coastal and piedmont areas in the Carolinas, upstate New York, and the central mid-Atlantic Region. In the south-central and southwestern parts of the Lower 48, intense heat accompanied dry weather, with the week averaging 5 to 9 deg. F above normal from Texas westward through the desert Southwest and part of the southern half of the Rockies. Temperatures reached 129 deg. F near Baker, CA on July 16. Elsewhere, the Northeast, Florida, the lower Mississippi Valley, and the West Coast States were also warmer than normal.
A broad range of conditions can be found across the region, and even regarding the week’s rainfall totals, some got too much while others languished in heat and drought. Most of Texas was dry this past week, and conditions deteriorated south of the Panhandle. D3 and D4 conditions (extreme to exceptional drought) expanded in the middle of the state, and severe drought (D2) pushed northward toward the central Red River Valley. Agriculture is increasingly impacted by the drought here, with 45 percent of the Texas cotton crop in poor or very poor condition. Almost half of rangelands were in poor or very poor condition, increasingly stressing livestock. In addition, 27 percent of Texas oats are in poor or very poor condition.
Elsewhere, the only other area remaining in D2 to D3 are north-central and southwestern Oklahoma, and agricultural impacts have been far milder outside the Lone Star State. Heavy rains over the past two weeks have left a large swath across the Panhandles, central Oklahoma, the north half of the Lower Mississippi Valley, and much of Tennessee free of any abnormal dryness.