Maps released Nov. 27, 2019 | Data valid Nov. 26, 2019
This Week’s Drought Summary: Mild weather returned across much of the country for several days, following a mid-November cold blast in the central and eastern U.S. Meanwhile, significant precipitation fell during the drought-monitoring period in several areas, including the Southwest and interior Southeast. The Southwestern precipitation, which reversed a drying trend that began with a sub-par monsoon season, provided much-needed moisture and limited drought relief. In contrast, little precipitation fell in the Northwest, which continued to experience an increase in dryness-related impacts (e.g. poor snowpack, low streamflow, and dry soils). Farther east, rain further chipped away at lingering dryness across the South and East. Patchy drought persisted, however, across portions of the central and southern Plains, leading to adverse effects on some rangeland, pastures, and winter grains. As the drought-monitoring period ended on November 26, a pair of major storm systems—one emerging from the central Rockies and the other approaching the Pacific Coast—brought the promise of widespread precipitation that will be evaluated for next week’s U.S. Drought Monitor.
South: There were only minor changes made to the drought depiction in Oklahoma and Texas, where mostly dry weather accompanied a gradual warming trend. Oklahoma’s panhandle (and neighboring areas) continued to experience some of the region’s harshest conditions, with moderate to severe drought (D1 to D2) further expanding. On Nov. 24, the USDA reported that topsoil moisture was 43% very short to short in Texas, along with 41% in Oklahoma. On the same date, Texas led the nation with 28% of its winter wheat rated in very poor to poor condition, compared to the national average of 14%.
Looking Ahead: During the remainder of Thanksgiving week, a pair of major storm systems will result in a variety of weather hazards across the country. Both low-pressure systems will take similar paths across the central Plains, upper Midwest, and Northeast, although the latter storm will be a higher-impact event across the West. Five-day precipitation totals could broadly reach 1 to 3 inches or more from the Plains to the Appalachians, with higher liquid amounts (in the form of heavy snow) expected in some Western mountain locations—especially in California and the Southwest. East of the Rockies, both storms have the potential to produce major accumulations of wind-driven snow, particularly across portions of the northern and central Plains and upper Midwest, leading to holiday-week travel disruptions. In addition, strong to locally severe thunderstorms could sweep across the South, especially on Nov. 29-30. By Dec. 1, a coastal low-pressure system may begin to intensify along the Atlantic Seaboard, while a new Pacific storm will begin to affect the Far West.
The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for Dec. 2 – 6, 2019, calls for the likelihood of near- or below-normal temperatures nationwide, except for warmer-than-normal weather in coastal California and across portions of the southern High Plains and the Southwest. Meanwhile, near- or below-normal precipitation in the eastern half of the country should contrast with wetter-than-normal conditions from California to the Rockies and northern High Plains.