This week’s drought summary: This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw an active weather pattern impact various parts of the conterminous U.S.—including the western U.S. which continued to experience below-normal temperatures and snow showers in the mountain ranges of the Pacific Northwest (Olympics, Cascades), California (Northern Coast Ranges, Sierra Nevada), and parts of the Intermountain West (Wasatch, Central and northern Rockies). In other parts of the Pacific Northwest, including central Oregon and Washington, drought intensified while improvement in drought-related conditions occurred in the Four Corners of northeastern Arizona. Elsewhere, an outbreak of severe weather, including showers and thunderstorms as well as tornadoes, affected parts of the Midwest and South. Along the Gulf Coast, temperatures were well-above normal with numerous single-day high temperature records broken. In Florida, drought conditions expanded across much of the state after another week of unseasonably warm temperatures and continued dryness with numerous cities across the state experiencing record dryness for the month.
South: On this week’s map, drought-affected areas of southern Texas and the Gulf Coast region of Louisiana and Mississippi saw continued deterioration resulting from the lack of rainfall and abnormally high temperatures. During the past week, a number of daily high-temperature records were either tied or broken across the region — including at the New Orleans International Airport that soared to 89 F on March 25. Along the Gulf Coast region of Louisiana and Mississippi, precipitation deficits (ranging from 3-to-6 inches) for the past 30-day period led to expansion of areas of Moderate Drought (D1). In the South Texas Plains and Gulf Coast Region, hot and dry weather this week led to continued expansion of areas of Moderate Drought (D1), Severe Drought (D2), and Extreme Drought (D3). In far southern portions of the state, temperatures reached the high 90s last week. According to the latest USDA Texas Crop Progress and Condition Report, some failed fields (small grains) in South Texas are being reported because of dry conditions while livestock across the state was rated in fair-to-good condition. In Oklahoma, above-normal precipitation during the past 30-day period led to removal of areas of Abnormally Dry (D0 and Moderate Drought (D1) in southwestern Oklahoma.
Looking ahead: The NWS WPC 7-Day Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) calls for moderate-to-heavy accumulations ranging from 1-to-5 inches across Central and East Texas and slightly lesser accumulations in southeastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, and northern Mississippi. Across much of the Southeast, the dry pattern is forecasted to continue with the exception of northern portions, which are forecasted for light accumulations (1-to-2 inches). In portions of the northern Plains and western portions of the Midwest, generally light accumulations (<1 inch liquid) are expected. Out West, moderate-to-heavy accumulations (ranging from 1-to-4 inches liquid) are forecasted for northern California while western portions of Oregon and Washington are forecasted to receive less accumulation. Across the Intermountain West, liquid accumulations of generally less than one inch are expected for parts of the central and northern Rockies, Uinta, and Wasatch ranges of Utah while the Southwest is expected to be dry. The CPC 6-10-day Outlook calls for a moderate-to-high probability of above-normal temperatures east of the Rockies while areas west of the Rockies are expected to be below normal. In terms of precipitation, there is a moderate-to-high probability of above-normal levels across California and Nevada while there is a low-to-moderate probability of above-normal precipitation across the remainder of the West with the exception of the areas of Colorado and New Mexico where below normal precipitation is expected. Elsewhere, above-normal precipitation is expected (33% to 50% probabilities) across the eastern half of the conterminous U.S. with the exception of Florida where dry conditions are expected to prevail. In Alaska, the northern two-thirds of the state have a high probability of above-average precipitation while the Aleutians, Southcentral, and Southeast should be below normal.