Source: United States Drought Monitor (unl.edu)
Map released Feb. 4, 2021 | Data valid Feb. 2, 2021
This week’s drought summary: California’s most powerful storm of the season to date delivered drought-easing precipitation, including heavy mountain snow, but caused local flooding and landslides. Impacts from the multi-day storm system extended beyond California, adding to the benefit of other mid-winter weather systems in portions of the Western drought area. As the calendar turned from January to February, the Western storm finally turned eastward, producing wind and wintry precipitation in the Midwest and Northeast, as well as rain showers in the Southeast. As the drought-monitoring period ended, the former Western storm became a powerful low-pressure system along the middle and northern Atlantic Coast. In contrast, mostly dry weather prevailed throughout the 7-day period in several regions, including the northern Plains and the South-Central U.S.
Mostly dry weather prevailed, leading to some general expansion of dryness and drought. The region’s most significant drought persisted across West Texas, where modest increases in coverage of moderate to exceptional drought (D1 to D4) occurred. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Texas led the Plains in late January with 41% of its winter wheat rated in very poor to poor condition. Farther east, short-term dryness led to some expansion of abnormal dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1), mostly from the lower Mississippi Valley and the Central Gulf Coast eastward.
Looking ahead: On Feb. 4-5, a storm system crossing the nation’s mid-section will result in wind-driven snow from the upper Midwest into the Great Lakes region. Parts of the Midwest and Northeast could experience freezing rain, while late-week rain showers will occur in the Southeast, including much of Florida. The Midwest’s coldest air of the season will trail the storm, with temperatures during the weekend and early next week possibly falling to 0°F or below as far south as the Ohio and middle Mississippi Valleys. In parts of Minnesota and North Dakota, temperatures may remain below 0°F for at least three consecutive days, from Feb. 6-8. Significant precipitation will be limited after cold air engulfs much of the country, aside from weekend rainfall in the Southeast and some wintry precipitation farther north across the eastern U.S.
The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for Feb. 9-13 calls for the likelihood of colder-than-normal weather nearly nationwide, except for above-normal temperatures across the southern tip of Florida and parts of the Southwest. Meanwhile, drier-than-normal weather west of the Rockies and in the Midwest and Northeast should contrast with near- or above-normal precipitation across the High Plains and Deep South.