Map released Feb. 20, 2020 | Data valid Feb. 18, 2020
This week’s drought summary: With high pressure anchored over the eastern Pacific Ocean, storm systems bypassed California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah, instead tracking either northward into the Pacific Northwest or southward across Baja California and into the southern Rockies. Once they reached the Nation’s mid-section, ample Gulf moisture was incorporated into the storm systems, generating widespread showers and thunderstorms in the South and Southeast, along with mixed or frozen precipitation in more northern locales. The week’s heaviest precipitation (1-4 inches) fell on western sections of Washington and Oregon, parts of the Rockies, and in the southern Great Plains, lower Mississippi, Tennessee, and Ohio Valleys, Southeast, and Appalachians. Weekly temperatures averaged below normal in Alaska and across much of the North-Central States as Arctic air brought sub-zero readings to most of the Midwest Thursday and Friday. In contrast, above-normal readings encompassed the Southeast, mid-Atlantic, and portions of the Far West.
South: Heavy rains (2-5 inches) fell from central Texas northeastward into southwestern Arkansas, across northern Louisiana, and from west-central Mississippi northeastward into central Tennessee. Light to moderate amounts (0.5-2 inches) were reported in northern and eastern Texas, eastern Oklahoma, and the remainder of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Little or no precipitation occurred in western portions of Texas and Oklahoma, and across southern and southeastern Texas. Weekly temperatures were seasonable in western and northern sections of the South, and above-normal along the central Gulf Coast. With the heavy rain that fell across central and northeastern Texas, a broad 1-category improvement was made, including some 2-category reductions (D2 to D0; D1 to nothing) in northeastern Texas where the amounts were the greatest. Elsewhere, some of the D0 and D1 was erased in northern Texas and southwest Oklahoma that incorporated precipitation over the past 2-week period; the D0 in southwest Arkansas was removed; and some D0 was alleviated in Louisiana and southern Mississippi where the totals exceeded an inch. In contrast, very dry weather the past 30- to 60-days in southern Texas, combined with above-normal temperatures, warranted a broad 1-category degradation in many southern and southeastern sections of the state. Deficits at 30-days reached 0.5-1.5 inches and 1.5-3 inches in southern and southeastern portions, and at 60-days, shortages were 1-2 inches and 2-4 inches, respectively. D3 was added or expanded where the short- and medium-range tools (3-, 6-, and 9-months) were the driest, along with corresponding to low values (less than tenth percentile) on the USGS average stream flows. D0 was also expanded into extreme southwestern Louisiana where little or no rain fell and short-term deficiencies grew.
Looking Ahead: During the next 5 days (February 20-24), another round of moderate to heavy precipitation (1-3 inches) is expected for the Pacific Northwest (western Washington and Oregon, northern Idaho), the central Great Plains, and from central Texas eastward across the Southeast to the Carolina Coasts. Light to moderate amounts (0.5-1 inch) are possible in the Four Corners Region, the Rockies, western Corn Belt, and eastern sections of the Northeast. Little or no precipitation is forecast for most of California, northern Nevada and Utah, eastern Oregon, southern Idaho, across the northern Plains, upper Midwest, and Great Lakes region, and southern Florida. Temperatures should average below-normal across the Northwest, Rockies, and southern half of the contiguous U.S., and above-normal in the Southwest, northern Plains, upper Midwest, and southern Florida.
In the extended range forecast for the ensuing 5 days (February 25-29), odds favor above-normal precipitation throughout Alaska, and from the central Plains northeastward into the Great Lakes region, the western and central Gulf Coasts, and the eastern quarter of the Nation. Subnormal precipitation is favored west of the Rockies, the northern and southern Plains, and the lower Mississippi Valley. Temperatures are likely to be below-normal across much of the lower 48 States and western Alaska, with low odds for above-normal temperatures in California, the Northeast Coast, southern Florida, and south-central and southeastern Alaska.