The Plains: Like the Mid-South and much of the Midwest, a continuation of warm, dry weather led to rapid deterioration in crop and pasture conditions. For the week ending May 20, the portion of Montana’s rangeland and pastures rated in very poor to poor condition jumped from 13 to 24%. During the 2-week period ending May 20, the portion of the Kansas winter wheat crop rated very poor to poor doubled from 11 to 22%. However, shower activity began to increase across Montana, Nebraska, and the Dakotas late in the drought monitoring period, helping to slow the expansion of dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1). Farther south, warm, dry weather returned to the Oklahoma and Texas early in the period, following the previous week’s drought-easing rainfall. Still, the May 1-22 rainfall of 9.84 inches (364% of normal) marked San Antonio’s highest May total since 1993, when 12.47 inches fell.
The West: Both short- and long-term drought continued to affect large portions of the West. Only the northern tier of the region, from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Rockies, remained largely free of drought. Worsening drought was noted in parts of Wyoming and the Four Corners States. During the week ending May 20, the portion of Wyoming’s rangeland and pastures rated in very poor to poor condition leaped from 18 to 33%. More than half of the rangeland and pastures were very poor to poor in New Mexico (82%), Arizona (69%), and Nevada (51%). Although nine of the eleven Western States have a buffer against developing drought in the form of abundant reservoir storage, high-elevation snow packs have largely melted out across the southern half of the region. Reservoir storage is below average for this time of year in Arizona and New Mexico, compounding water-supply issues in those two states. A new area of extreme drought (D3) in northwestern Colorado is reflective of very low water year-to-date precipitation totals—in the 5th percentile or lower at several locations. In addition, severe drought (D2) was expanded in several other parts of the Four Corners States. In recent days, several wildfires have been active in the Southwest. In central Arizona, both the Gladiator (just east of Crown King) and the Sunflower fires (well north of Mesa) have charred at least 15,000 acres of vegetation.
Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico: Currently, there is neither dryness nor drought depicted in Alaska and Puerto. The drought situation across Hawaii’s central and eastern islands continued to gradually deteriorate due to unusually dry conditions since the beginning of the late-spring and summer “dry” season. On the Big Island at Hilo, April 1 – May 22 rainfall totaled just 10.77 inches (61% of normal). On the leeward side of the Big Island, deterioration of pastures was reported.