Rain in eastern portions of the region contrasted with intensifying drought across the southern Plans and environs. Rain totaled 1 to 3 inches (locally more) over central and eastern Mississippi, while two-week totals of 2 to 6 inches extended from southeastern Texas into central Mississippi. Despite the much-needed moisture, considerable longer-term deficits persisted in the Delta’s core Moderate and Severe Drought (D1 and D2) areas, with 90-day precipitation at or below 50 percent of normal (D2 equivalent or worse).
Farther west, Extreme Drought (D3) expanded across much of northern Texas and western Oklahoma, with subsequent increases in D2 noted in central Texas and eastern Oklahoma. From Lubbock northward into Oklahoma, little — if any — rain or snow has fallen over the past 90 days; the four-month Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) was well below D4 levels (-2.0 or lower) in these locales.
Despite the cooler season with minimal agricultural activity on the Plains, impacts were beginning to appear. In Oklahoma, the percent of winter wheat rated poor to very poor jumped from 10 percent at the end of November to 79 percent by the end of January, with 93 percent of the state’s topsoil moisture rated short to very short.
In Texas, the lack of precipitation is reaching historic levels. According to the National Weather Service, Feb. 7, 2018, marked the 117th consecutive day without measurable precipitation for Amarillo, shattering the previous mark of 75 days (records date back to 1892). In Lubbock, Feb. 7 marked the 91st consecutive day without measurable precipitation, just 7 days shy of the 98-day benchmark. The situation on the southern Plains is rapidly becoming dire, and precipitation will be needed soon to prevent further expansion or intensification of drought.
Read more at droughtmonitor.unl.edu.