This week’s drought summary: A dry pattern continued this past week over large portions of the continental United States, with a few exceptions being areas impacted by Hurricane Delta or its remnants, parts of the Upper Midwest and middle Missouri River Valley, and parts of the Northeast. In areas of the Northeast that received an inch or two of rain, some improvements were made in the ongoing drought areas there. As a storm system and associated cold front brought showers and thunderstorms to parts of the Middle and Upper Missouri River Valley and to the Upper Midwest, some improvements were made to ongoing drought there. Abnormal dryness abated in a few areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, which received copious rainfall from Hurricane Delta. Degradations or persistence of ongoing drought was common in parts of the Midwest, Great Plains, and West that received little or no precipitation this week. Temperatures this week were warmer than normal across most of the Lower 48. The central Great Plains and middle Missouri River Valley were the warmest compared to normal, with temperatures from 9 to 12 degrees above normal common. New England experienced milder conditions this week, with a few below-normal readings taking place in northern Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
South: Category two Hurricane Delta and its remnants delivered above-normal rainfall from far east Texas through most of Mississippi, southeast Arkansas, and southern Tennessee, leading to the reduction of abnormally dry areas in Louisiana and Mississippi. Elsewhere, dry conditions occurred, and existing areas of drought expanded. Short-term drought continued to plague the southern high plains regions of Oklahoma and Texas, where moderate, severe, and extreme drought continued to spread amid worsening short-term precipitation deficits, decreasing soil moisture, and drying vegetation. Temperatures in the region were also mostly warmer than normal, with the warmest areas (compared to normal) being found in the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles, where temperatures were 9 to 12 degrees warmer than normal.
Looking ahead: A series of cold fronts over the next week are forecast to bring a higher chance of cooler than normal temperatures to the north-central continental United States. Except for the northern tier of states, much of the West is forecast to be dry through the evening of Oct. 19. Farther east, higher rainfall amounts of a half an inch or more are possible from the Mid-Atlantic coast north, while lighter precipitation is forecast in the Midwest. Glancing ahead to the Oct. 20-24 period, cooler than normal conditions are more likely to be widespread from the Pacific Northwest to the western Great Lakes, while in the eastern United States, warmer than normal temperatures are favored in this period. Widespread increased chances for above-normal precipitation are forecast in the northern Rockies and much of the Great Plains, Midwest, and East, while below-normal or near-normal precipitation is favored elsewhere in the Lower 48.