This Week’s Drought Summary
A series of storm systems moved across the lower 48 states this past week. Heavy rain fell across parts of the Great Plains and Southeast, with lighter amounts observed across parts of the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West. The Central and Southern Plains, Lower Mississippi Valley, and Southeast mostly saw improvements to drought conditions, with several locations receiving more than 2 inches of rainfall (more than 5 inches, locally) during the 7 days leading up to March 22. Throughout much of the U.S., where antecedent dryness coincided with below-normal precipitation, drought either continued or worsened in intensity. The only areas where this was not true was across parts of the Upper Midwest, which experienced some removal of long-term drought due to improvements from melting snow cover.
Two storm systems brought heavy rainfall across much of the Southern Region this past week. The first system dropped heavy rain across parts of central Louisiana and much of Mississippi before moving eastward very early in the period (March 15-16). The second storm system intensified over the Southern and Central Plains in the final day leading up to March 22, dropping heavy rain across central and eastern Oklahoma and northern and eastern Texas, extending eastward to the Mississippi River. Rainfall totals across many of these areas exceeded 2 inches, leading to large swaths of 1-category improvements in the drought depiction. 2-category improvements were also warranted in isolated locations receiving, in some cases, more than 5 inches of rain. Given the short-term nature of the drought, soil moisture indicators and stream flows responded quickly, leading to more aggressive improvements in eastern Oklahoma, eastern Texas, and the Ark-La-Tex. Farther west and south in Texas, many locations missed out entirely, receiving little to no precipitation this past week. This increased rainfall deficits that go back several months, resulting in the continued deterioration of drought across these areas.