Map released on Oct. 22, 2020 | Data valid Oct. 20, 2020
This week’s drought summary: Over the past week, beneficial precipitation fell over the higher elevations of Washington and Oregon, in much of Montana (particularly the mountainous western half), in the Lower Missouri River and Ohio River valleys, and in New England, leading to improving conditions in parts of these regions. Meanwhile, the southeast United States (with the exception of the Florida Peninsula) was mostly dry. Dry weather also continued across much of the central and southern Great Plains this week, as well as most of the southwestern United States. With background dry conditions in many areas that did not receive rain, combined with high evaporative demand over much of the High Plains and western United States, widespread worsening of drought conditions occurred from the Great Plains to the Southwest.
South: Except for Northwest Tennessee and adjacent Northeast Arkansas, dry weather occurred in the South this week. Near-normal temperatures occurred in most of Oklahoma, North Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee, while temperatures ranging from three to nine degrees warmer than normal took place in South Texas.
Drought conditions generally worsened in the region, in particular in Northwest Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Central and West Texas. In the Southern High Plains, the lack of precipitation this week occurred in a region that has had very high evaporative demand over the last few months, leading to further loss of soil moisture in areas where winter wheat is planted.
Looking ahead: A series of storm systems and cold fronts is forecast to affect the western two-thirds of the continental United States through Monday, Oct. 26, bringing chances of welcome mountain snow to Colorado, precipitation locally exceeding a half inch to the northern tier of the continental United States, and heavier precipitation from Central Oklahoma to the Great Lakes.
By early next week, colder than normal temperatures are forecast to be entrenched across the western two-thirds of the continental United States, while above-normal temperatures occur in the east. From Tuesday, Oct. 27 through the end of the month, colder than normal weather is favored from west of the Appalachian Mountains through most of the West, while warmer than normal weather is favored in the Southeast. The forecast also favors above-normal precipitation from southwest Colorado to the Great Lakes and East Coast, while below-normal precipitation is favored in the northern Great Plains, California, and the Pacific Northwest.