Drought Monitor: Dry, Hot Conditions Headed To The Midwest, Cooler In The Southwest

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The Northeast: Warmer-than-normal conditions returned, with showers in southern and eastern portions of the region contrasting with increasing dryness across northern New England. Up to an inch of rain fell in southern Maine, easing Abnormal Dryness (D0) in coastal portions of the state, while declining streamflows and a lack of rainfall farther north led to a northward expansion of D0 into central Maine. Meanwhile, increasing dryness in north-central New York led to an expansion of D0, with stream flows in the lowest 10th percentile across much of the Abnormally Dry area. Widespread showers (locally more than 1.5 inches) continued across western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio, reducing the coverage of D0. Lingering long-term deficits (last 365 days) persist in portions of Ohio and western Pennsylvania, indicating that despite two weeks of beneficial rainfall, Abnormal Dryness has not been completely erased from these areas.

The Southeast: Widespread showers were reported over most of the region, with 2 to locally more than 5 inches of rain tallied in the D0 (Abnormally Dry) areas of North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina. Consequently, the coverage of D0 was reduced significantly for the second straight week. However, dryness persisted in central and western South Carolina, where D0 was either retained or expanded slightly.

Gulf Coast: Mostly dry, hot weather prevailed across central and western portions of the region, while showers were observed in eastern-most Moderate Drought (D1) areas. The rain, which ranged from a trace to locally more than 2 inches, was not sufficient to offer significant drought relief. However, with modest improvements in streamflows and soil moisture, drought coverage and intensity were not increased in northern Louisiana and adjacent portions of Mississippi. In eastern Texas, D0 and D1 were expanded westward to account for increasing precipitation deficits on numerous timescales (in particular, 90-day rainfall averaging 8 to 12 inches below normal). In addition, declining streamflows were noted in eastern Texas, while Standardized Precipitation Indices (SPI) likewise supported D0 and D1 expansion. Given the increasingly high water demands associated with late spring and early summer, rain will be needed in this region soon to stave off rapid expansion of drought.

Great Plains: Locally heavy downpours (1 to 6 inches) in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas replenished soil moisture and, in many areas, eliminated lingering precipitation deficits. With 7-day average streamflows now above the 40th percentile (in some cases above the 70th percentile), D0 was removed from the south-central Plains.

Upper Midwest: For the second straight week, drought reduction in western portions of the region contrasted with expanding drought farther east. Moderate to very heavy rain (1 to 5 inches) in northern Minnesota further eased Moderate Drought (D1), with 1-category improvements made over northern portions of the state. Meanwhile, dry, warmer-than-normal weather (temperatures more than 10°F above normal) increased drought intensity and coverage over northern portions of Wisconsin and Michigan. In particular, 7-day average streamflows fell below the 2nd percentile in northeast Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, with Standardized Precipitation Indices valid out to 12 months indicating that drought is intensifying rapidly.

The West: Late-season storminess persisted, with locally heavy rain and snow reported across the northern half of the region. Despite the seasonal melt of mountain snow packs, week-to-week snow depth gains were noted over western Montana, southwestern Wyoming, and northern portions of Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. Precipitation totals in excess of 2 inches led to the reduction of drought intensity and coverage over northern and central portions of the Rockies. Water-year precipitation percentiles remained below the 10th percentile, however, in D2 (Severe Drought) areas of northwestern Wyoming, western Montana, and northeastern Idaho. Improvements were also made in the Abnormally Dry (D0) areas extending from southeastern Oregon into western Utah, based primarily on updated 6-month Standardized Precipitation Indices (SPI); water-year percentiles (mostly 40th percentile or higher); and water-year precipitation near or above 100 percent of normal. Farther south, Abnormally Dry conditions were added to southwestern Colorado to correspond with water-year precipitation totals at or below the 30th percentile, while expanding dryness (D0) in north-central New Mexico corresponded with increasing short-term precipitation deficits as well as declining soil moisture percentiles and corresponding 6-month SPI values.

Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico: In Hawaii, dry, warm conditions (1 to 3°F above normal) maintained Extreme (D3) to Exceptional Drought (D4) over Molokai, Maui, and the Big Island. In Alaska, warm, mostly dry weather prevailed, with Moderate Drought (D1) added to central portions of the state to correspond with water-year precipitation totals and 7-day average streamflows below the 25th percentile. In Puerto Rico, locally heavy showers (up to 4 inches) maintained favorable streamflows and soil moisture.

Looking Ahead: Unsettled weather will continue across northern portions of the West, with locally heavy precipitation likely from the Pacific Northwest into the northern Rockies. In contrast, mostly dry, hot weather will prevail across the western and central Gulf Coast region, while showers dot the southeastern quarter of the nation. Dry, increasingly warm weather is anticipated across the drought areas of the Upper Midwest, although a few showers may accompany a cool front during the latter half of the weekend. Elsewhere, dry, generally cool weather is anticipated over the Southwest, while a late-spring Northeastern heat wave gives way to cooler, mostly dry conditions over the weekend.

The CPC 6-10 day forecast (June 1–5) calls for above-normal temperatures from southern California into the central and southern Rockies, while cooler-than-normal conditions prevail in the Pacific Northwest and across northeastern quarter of the nation. Near- to above-normal precipitation is expected across much of the lower 48, with the greatest likelihood for wetter-than-normal weather centered in the Northwest and Ohio River valley. In Alaska, drier- and mostly warmer-than-normal weather is anticipated.

Author: Eric Luebehusen, United States Department of Agriculture


Dryness Categories
D0 ... Abnormally Dry ... used for areas showing dryness but not yet in drought, or for areas recovering from drought.

Drought Intensity Categories
D1 ... Moderate Drought
D2 ... Severe Drought
D3 ... Extreme Drought
D4 ... Exceptional Drought

Drought or Dryness Types
A ... Agricultural
H ... Hydrological




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