Like last week (and many other recent weeks), significant precipitation fell mainly on non-drought areas of Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, and eastern sections of Oklahoma and Texas, and bypassed the drought in western Texas and Oklahoma. With the early October rains falling out of the most recent 6-month period, SPIs plunged to D3 and D4 levels across northern new Mexico, northern Texas, western Oklahoma, southern Colorado, and southwest Kansas.
The early October rains seemed like a long-faded memory as most non-irrigated winter wheat fields and pastures in the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma were in very poor or dead condition. According to NASS USDA April 8 reports, 61, 57, 44, and 19 percent of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado winter wheat was in poor or very poor condition, respectively, and 41, 40, 37, and 26 percent of Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas pastures and ranges were in similar condition (Kansas N/A).
In parts of northern Texas, soils were dry down to 1-3 feet, whereas other locations were dry in the upper 12-18 inches, and Level 2 water restrictions were in place for Canyon. While some areas benefited from the early October rains and were kept at D3, D4 was expanded into northeastern New Mexico, northern Texas, western Oklahoma, and southwestern Kansas where the impacts matched the indices.
In contrast, with additional light rains in central and southern Texas, plus heavier rains from last week, minor adjustments (mostly improvements) were made to the D0-D2 areas, except for some D2 expansion north of Del Rio that missed out on the rains during the past 2 weeks. In southern Louisiana, light showers (0.5-1.5 inches) fell on the D0 area, but the heaviest rains fell north and south (offshore), thus no changes were made.
Unfortunately, the Southwest and southern half of the Plains is expected to remain dry. Temperatures should average below normal across much of the lower 48 states.
For the ensuing 5 days (April 17-21), odds favor above-median precipitation across much of the West, Rockies, and Plains, except near to below-median totals in southern Arizona and most of New Mexico and Texas. Subnormal temperatures are a good bet across much of the lower 48 States except in the southern Plains and extreme southern Florida.