The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic: A warm and fairly dry pattern continued over the region for this week. Eastern Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, and western Virginia were the main areas to receive precipitation this last week, in the form of a few rain showers. As the drought indicators continue to worsen, especially over the short term, expansion of D0 and D1 took place this week. In Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and portions of eastern New York, D1 was expanded as it was also done in Delaware and eastern Maryland. Abnormally dry conditions were also expanded in Maine, New Hampshire, northern Virginia, western Maryland and into the panhandle of West Virginia. Not only are the short-term drought indicators looking worse, the river and streamflows in the region are well below normal for this time of year.
Southeast: Overall, the showers were not widespread this week for the southeastern United States. The main drought areas did not see any substantial rain that would lead to improvements, and the drought situation declined for the region. In Florida, D4 was introduced in the Suwannee basin because of record low groundwater levels and reduced surface flows. In west Florida, D3 was expanded to the east while in northeast Florida, D3 was pushed to the south. South Florida had D2 shift farther to the south and east but the consensus was to hold off on any new D3 in that part of the state.
South: With most areas recording record or near record temperatures for March, the water demand has increased rapidly over the last several weeks. Dry conditions have been noted from middle Tennessee up into western Kentucky. Because of the dry conditions, D0 was introduced this week and there were several discussions about pushing this into northern Alabama and more of eastern Tennessee. It can be noted that this change was not made because of the lack of notable impacts at this point, with many expressing that it will not take much more dryness to have widespread concerns.
Midwest: With some good rains over eastern Iowa, northern Missouri, southern Wisconsin and into Michigan, this region picked up some of the most widespread precipitation this week. The only changes this week include an expansion of D1 out of southeastern Minnesota and into Wisconsin as they have not picked up any of the recent rains and conditions are drying out, especially with the warm temperatures.
The Plains: A dry week for the High Plains and some rains in the southern Plains warranted both improvements and some new drought areas. Up north, the early warm up and dryness that has persisted for the most part since last fall brought with it some new drought regions. In North Dakota, D1 was introduced in the western part of the state; in Nebraska, D1 was shifted out of northwest Iowa and into northeast Nebraska. Because of standing water in agricultural fields, some D0 was eliminated in southeast North Dakota as there are no apparent moisture issues right now. Through much of the High Plains, temperatures well above normal, high winds and a dry start to spring have started taking a toll on soil moisture conditions as they continue to drop. Producers who are eagerly awaiting planting should have adequate moisture to start their crops but will need periodic and consistent precipitation by the end of spring or problems will arise.