Map released March 25, 2021 | Data valid March 23, 2021
This week’s drought summary: A couple of low pressure systems resulted in widespread precipitation (0.5 to three inches, locally more) across the central and southern Plains, Ohio and Tennessee Valleys, Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic from March 16 to 22. However, mostly dry weather persisted across southern Texas, the Florida Peninsula, northern New England, the Great Lakes, and northern Plains. Periods of rain and high-elevation snow occurred across the Pacific Northwest, northern California, and the central Rockies, but the Southwest remained mostly dry. As of March 23, seven-day maximum temperatures averaged above normal across the northern Plains and Upper Mississippi Valley.
South: The severe weather outbreak that affected the Southeast Region began across the Lower Mississippi Valley on March 17 and local rainfall amounts exceeded two inches across parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi where one-category improvements were made. More widespread rainfall amounts of more than 1.5 inches increased soil moisture throughout nearly all of Tennessee. Based on this past week’s rainfall of one to three inches and improving soil moisture conditions, improvements were made to much of Oklahoma and parts of northern to Central Texas. Small two-category improvements were justified for the northeast Texas Panhandle and Northwest Oklahoma where the heaviest rainfall occurred. Periods of above normal temperatures, enhanced surface winds, and below normal precipitation this month supported a continued worsening of drought conditions throughout South Texas. Soil moisture declines rapidly from Central to West Texas where indicators support D3 (extreme) to D4 (exceptional) drought categories.
Looking ahead: During the next five days (March 25 to 29), a pair of low pressure systems are forecast to bring widespread precipitation (0.5 to two inches, locally more) to the Lower and Middle Mississippi Valley, Ohio and Tennessee Valleys, and Northeast. Farther to the south across the Florida Peninsula and South Texas, dry weather is likely to persist. Little to no precipitation is also forecast for the northern Great Plains. Additional snow is expected throughout the Rockies, Intermountain West, and Cascades.
The CPC 6-10 day extended range outlook (valid from March 30 to April 3) favors near normal temperatures for much of the lower 48 in a variable pattern. Probabilities of above normal temperatures are elevated for the northern Plains, Florida, and California. Below normal temperatures are most likely across Alaska. Above normal precipitation is favored for the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, western Gulf Coast, Rio Grande Valley, and Alaska. Increased chances of below normal precipitation are forecast across the Upper Mississippi Valley, much of the Plains, and throughout the West.