Map released Jan. 7, 2021 | Data valid Jan. 5, 2021
This week’s drought summary: Since the release of last week’s map, several storm systems impacted the Lower 48. The first spread snowfall across the Rockies and into the Plains and Midwest. The second spread snow and ice from Texas across the central U.S. and into the Northeast. Meanwhile the Pacific Northwest was battered with a series of strong Pacific storms that brought heavy rain and mountain snow. The overall effect generally brought improvements in drought conditions to the Northwest and across an area extending from Texas to Pennsylvania. Deteriorating conditions were minimal and limited to areas such as the Pacific Northwest, North Dakota and Hawaii, where moisture deficits continued to increase. In all, the percent area of the U.S. experiencing moderate drought or worse stands at 45.76%, down from 48.99% last week.
South: Widespread above normal precipitation fell across the region resulting in large swaths of drought improvements. In Texas, this week’s winter storm brought one to four inches of precipitation, more than what is normally received in an entire month this time of year. This resulted in one-category, and localized two-category improvements to drought areas in all but the far western part of the state, the Panhandle and South Texas. Moderate drought (D1) was removed from southeast Oklahoma and Arkansas and reduced in Mississippi and Tennessee where rainfall exceeded more than three times the normal amount. In addition to helping chip away at short- and long-term precipitation deficits across the region, soil moisture and streamflow showed recovery.
Looking ahead: The National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center forecast for the remainder of the week calls for continued storminess in the Pacific Northwest. Heavy rain is expected along the coastal ranges of Washington, Oregon and North California, with snow at higher elevations. As the storms move eastward, snow is forecast for the northern and central Rocky Mountains while the Northern Plains are expected to receive a wintry mix of rain, snow and/or ice. Forecasts for the Southern Plains, South and Southeast call for showers and thunderstorms. Areas from the mid-Mississippi Valley to the Mid-Atlantic can also expect a wintry mix of precipitation while light snow is forecast for the Great Lakes region, Northeast and central Appalachians. Moving into next week, the Climate Prediction Center 6- to 10-day outlook (valid Jan. 12-16) favors above normal temperatures for the Southwest and much of the northern part of the country. Below-normal temperatures are expected in the southern and Mid-Atlantic States. The greatest probabilities for above-normal precipitation are expected in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Plains.