Delta: Very heavy showers and thunderstorms developed over the Delta’s drought areas during the past week, with 3 to more than 10 inches of rain eliminating drought from the region. Long-term precipitation deficits linger in southern-most portions of the Delta, with Abnormal Dryness (D0) maintained to reflect 180-day precipitation departures of 12 inches or more (less than 50 percent of normal). Despite these underlying deficits, local assessments indicated the impacts of the drought had essentially ended with this week’s heavy rain.
South-Central U.S.: Moderate to heavy showers across central and eastern drought areas contrasted with unfavorably dry, warm weather in southern- and western-most portions of the region. 1 to 3 inches of rain provided additional drought relief in eastern portions of Texas and much of central and eastern Oklahoma. In eastern Texas, Severe Drought (D2) was removed, with only a small area of Moderate Drought (D1) left to reflect slow-to-recover reservoir levels while the rain alleviated D0 (Abnormal Dryness) in a large part of Oklahoma. Additional detailed assessment of the region’s ongoing and former drought areas indicated that despite recent heavy rainfall, reservoirs continued to run well below normal. In many of these areas, reservoir levels imply drought worse than depicted; the low lake levels are due to a complex set of conditions, including long-term decline in many reservoirs and meteorological drought conditions within reservoir drainage areas that are worse than drought conditions at the reservoir locations themselves. Water restrictions on areas served by those reservoirs may likewise be more severe than the Drought Monitor depiction of drought status in those areas. From northern Texas into western Oklahoma, beneficial showers (0.5-1 inch) provided some relief from Severe (D2) to Exceptional (D4) drought. Farther west, the southern High Plains reported 90-degree heat with little if any rain, keeping this region firmly entrenched in Severe (D3) to Exceptional (D4) Drought.
Central and Northern Plains: Unseasonably warm, dry conditions prevailed over the northern two-thirds of the region, while beneficial rain soaked portions of Kansas. A slow-moving disturbance produced 1 to 2 inches of rain over much of central and southern Kansas, with locally up to 3 inches reported in the southwestern quarter of the state. As a result, 3-month precipitation now averaged 100 to 160 percent of normal across central and eastern Kansas, where D0 (Abnormal Dryness) was removed. Widespread improvements were also made in southwestern Kansas, although the lingering impacts of long-term severe to extreme drought will be slow to be erased. From northern Kansas into eastern Montana and western portions of the Dakotas, mostly dry, windy, and warmer-than-normal weather (10-20°F above average) resulted in an expansion of D0 and D1 (Moderate Drought). Precipitation over the past 6 months has totaled locally less than 50 percent of normal from northern Kansas into western Nebraska and eastern Montana, and below 40 percent of normal in western portions of the Dakotas. The unseasonable warmth (highs reaching the lower to middle 80s) has accelerated crop development and heightened the need for rain over the upcoming weeks. In contrast, additional assessment coupled with a round of generally light showers (0.25-0.50 inch) led to a minor reduction in D0 coverage in north-central North Dakota.