This Week’s Drought Summary
In some areas of the country, storminess chipped away and dryness and drought. Notably, on the 10th, Nicole became the first November hurricane to make landfall on the U.S. mainland since 1985, when Kate struck near Mexico Beach, Florida, on November 21. Nicole, a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds near 75 mph, moved ashore just south of Vero Beach, Florida, around 3 am EST. Nicole’s remnants eventually affected the entire eastern U.S., providing varying degrees of relief from autumn dryness. Some of the heaviest rain, locally 4 inches or more, fell in the central and southern Appalachians and neighboring areas. The rain helped to boost streamflow in the upper reaches of the Ohio River basin, with runoff moving downstream as the drought-monitoring period ended. Farther west, a storm system produced heavy snow and local blizzard conditions in the north-central U.S., while parts of the West received drought-easing precipitation. However, many other areas of the country remained mostly dry. Frigid conditions developed in conjunction with the Western storminess and expanded eastward, while much of the lingering warmth in the South and East was swept away, shortly after Nicole’s departure.
Late in the drought-monitoring period, precipitation developed across eastern sections of Oklahoma and Texas before spreading into the lower Mississippi Valley. Targeted reductions in drought coverage up to one category were made where the heaviest rain fell. However, much of the region received little or no precipitation. By November 13, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rated topsoil moisture at least one-half very short to short in Oklahoma (76%), Texas (71%), and Louisiana (58%). On the same date, the recently planted winter wheat crop continued to struggle in the driest areas, with 48% of the crop rated in very poor to poor condition in Texas, along with 42% in Oklahoma. In Arkansas, only 59% of the winter wheat had emerged by November 13, compared to the 5-year average of 66%. Rangeland and pastures continued to reflect the effects of drought, with 82% rated in very poor to poor condition in Oklahoma, along with 62% in Arkansas, and 57% in Texas.