Map released April 8, 2021 | Data valid April 6, 2021
This week’s drought summary: A cold front moving across the eastern half of the country last week brought showers and thunderstorms and left record-breaking cold temperatures in its wake. Meanwhile, dry conditions and warmer than normal temperatures continued in the West with many locations setting daily record high temperatures. The overall effect was a general deterioration of conditions across the Lower 48 as moisture deficits continued to build in the West and in locations in the eastern half of the country that missed out on the heaviest rainfall. Improvements were minimal and limited to parts of the Midwest and Southern Plains.
South: Showers and thunderstorms impacted the Lower Mississippi and Tennessee valleys last week, resulting in improvements to abnormally dry (D0) areas in Mississippi. Having missed out on the heaviest rainfall, drought and abnormal dryness generally expanded in the western part of the region. In Texas, degradations occurred throughout the state in response to rainfall deficits, increased evaporative demand and vegetation health. Most notable is an expansion of D3 (extreme) and D4 (exceptional) drought in the long-term drought area in the western part of the state. In Oklahoma, this week’s map shows broad expansions of D0 and D1 (moderate drought). Warm, dry weather combined with gusty winds increased evaporative demand, drying out soils and vegetation. The only improvements this week occurred in the Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma. Despite the lack of rain last week, a reassessment of indicators shows that conditions have started to recover.
Looking ahead: The National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center forecast for the next five days (April 8 through the 12) forecasts heavy rain and the potential for thunderstorms for the central U.S. As the storm system pushes eastward, chances increase for heavy rain and thunderstorms across the Upper Midwest, south-central, and southeastern U.S. In the Northwest, a storm moving in from the Pacific will bring colder than normal temperatures with snow likely falling in the Cascades and Northern Rockies and rain at lower elevations. In the Southwest and southern High Plains, warm, dry weather combined with gusty winds is expected to persist, leading to the potential continuation of dangerous fire weather conditions. Moving into next week, the Climate Prediction Center six-to 10-day outlook (valid April 12 through April 16) favors above normal temperatures across the West, Northeast and Southeast, with the largest probabilities centered over the Great Basin and New England. Below normal temperatures are most likely across the Great Plains, Mississippi Valley and Alaska. The greatest probabilities of above normal precipitation are across the Southern Plains, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states.