Thursday, May 26, 2016
Current U.S. Drought Monitor

NOTE: To view regional drought conditions, click on map above. State maps can be accessed from regional maps.

The data cutoff for Drought Monitor maps is each Tuesday at 8 a.m. EDT. The maps, which are based on analysis of the data, are released each Thursday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

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The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

For local details and impacts, please contact your State Climatologist or Regional Climate Center.

Current National Drought Summary

Summary

This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw widespread improvements in drought conditions primarily focused on northern California and Nevada while short-term precipitation deficits during the past 30–60 days led to some deterioration of conditions in parts of the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, and Southeast. During the past week, unseasonably cool temperatures dominated east of the Rockies while temperatures were above average in the Far West. Parts of the South continued in a wet pattern where a series of severe storms impacted South Texas with heavy rains (five-to-twelve inches) and localized flash flooding. Significant rainfall accumulations (two-to-five inches) also were observed in portions of the lower Midwest including southern Illinois, western Kentucky, and southern Missouri. Out West, conditions were generally drier, although some modest rainfall accumulations were observed across the Central and North Rockies as well as in the Pacific Northwest. In the Hawaiian Islands, beneficial rains fell in the drought-impacted coffee growing regions of South Kona on the Big Island, providing some relief.

The Northeast

On this week’s map, only minor changes were made in the Northeast with slight expansion of Abnormally Dry (D0) in southern portions of New Hampshire and Vermont, southeastern Maine, western Massachusetts, and Upstate New York where short-term (30-day) precipitation deficits exist and stream flows are below normal. Precipitation accumulations during the past week ranged from one-half-to-two inches with greatest accumulations in northern Maine and New Hampshire. Average temperatures were slightly above-normal in northern portions and two-to-five degrees below-normal in southern portions of the region.

Mid-Atlantic

On this week’s map, only minor changes were made in the region. In southwestern Virginia and southeastern West Virginia, areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) were removed in response to persistent rainfall during the past several weeks. Elsewhere in the region, precipitation accumulations for the period were modest with accumulations ranging from 0.25” to 1.5” in Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. For the seven-day period, average temperatures were well below-normal across much of the region with some record daily low temperatures reported in North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The Southeast

During the past week, temperatures were slightly above-normal across much of the region with the exception of northern portions of Alabama and Georgia where temperatures were a few degrees below-normal. Overall, the Southeast was generally dry during the past week with some lower accumulations (less than one inch) observed in northern portions of Alabama and Georgia. On the map, short-term precipitation deficits (30–60 day) led to the expansion of areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) and Moderate Drought (D1) in northern Alabama and Georgia where 28-day average stream flows were running below-normal.

The South

During the past week, western portions of the South continued in a wet pattern with the Gulf Coast region of Texas receiving significant rainfall accumulations during the past week. Rainfall totals in South Texas ranged from one-to-twelve inches with the highest totals reported in and around Corpus Christie. This week’s rainfall in Texas led to elimination of areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) in South Texas as well as trimming back D0 areas in the Trans Pecos and Panhandle regions. Temperatures across the region hovered near-normal with exception of northern portions of Texas where temperatures were two-to-six degrees below-normal.

Midwest

The Midwest saw some improvements on the map in Kentucky and southern Missouri in response to heavy rainfall (two-to-five inch accumulations) that impacted southern portions of the region this week. Overall, average temperatures were well below-normal across the region with southern portions being two-to-eight degrees below-normal while northern portions dipped up to fifteen degrees below-normal in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Plains

Across the Plains, improvements were made on the map in areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) in southeastern Kansas and north-central Oklahoma where recent rainfall improved area conditions. In southwestern South Dakota, short-term precipitation deficits in the Black Hills led to the introduction of an area of Moderate Drought (D1) that extended across the border into northeastern Wyoming. Temperatures were well below-normal across the entire region during the past week, especially in the Central and Northern Plains where temperatures were six-to-fifteen degrees below-normal. Precipitation across the region was heaviest in eastern portions of Kansas and Oklahoma where one-to-three inch accumulations occurred during the past week while northern portions were dry.

The West

During the past week, average temperatures were generally above-normal across much of the West with the exception of the northern Great Basin, central Rockies, and northern Rockies where temperatures were two-to-ten degrees below normal. Overall, the West was generally dry during the past seven-day period with the exception of isolated shower activity in the Central and Northern Rockies, and portions of the Pacific Northwest. With the conclusion of the snow season, statewide reservoir storage is above average in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming while near-normal levels are present in Oregon and Utah. Conversely, below-normal storage levels remain in Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico, according to the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

On this week’s map, widespread one-category improvements were made across northern California and northwestern Nevada where conditions have steadily improved since the beginning of the Water Year (October 1st). In the northern Sierra, spring rains combined with a generally above-average snowpack have led to considerable increases in reservoir storage levels in area reservoirs. According to the California Department of Water Resources, Lake Oroville sits at 116% of its historical average while both Folsom Lake and Lake Shasta are at 108%. As of May 17th, the Northern Sierra 8-Station Index (a broad index of precipitation in the northern Sierra) is at 119% of average since the beginning of the Water Year. In southern California, precipitation accumulations since the beginning of the Water Year have been below-normal, especially in coastal areas of Los Angeles, Orange, and Ventura counties where the percentage of normal precipitation is less than 50% for the Water Year. In northwestern Nevada, a one-category improvement in a large area of Extreme Drought (D3) was made in response to a combination of short- and long-term indicators supporting improvements including: snowpack conditions, stream flows, reservoir storage levels, percentage of normal precipitation, and vegetative health. In the Pacific Northwest, a combination of short-term precipitation deficits (30-day) and above-normal temperatures led to the introduction of an area of Abnormally Dry (D0) in northwestern Oregon and western Washington where stream flow (28-day average) activity and soil moisture conditions are below-normal in many locations. In western Utah, a one-category improvement was made in an area of Moderate Drought (D1) where short- and long-term indicators show improvements in stream flows, groundwater levels, and soil moisture.

Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico

On this week’s map, one-category improvements were made on the Big Island in the South Kona and Puna districts as well as western portions of Kauai. On the Big Island, average temperatures were slightly below-normal on the leeward side and two-to-four degrees above normal on the windward side. Overall, the Hawaiian Islands were very dry during the past week with the exception of one-to-two inch accumulations in South Kona and the Hamakua District. No changes were made on the map in Alaska and Puerto Rico. In Alaska, average temperatures were above-normal (three-to-fifteen degrees) across the state with the greatest anomalies observed along the North Slope.

Looking Ahead

The NWS WPC 7-Day Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) calls for significant rainfall accumulations in the Gulf Coast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and Texas with totals ranging from two-to-four inches. Otherwise, lesser accumulations are forecasted for extreme northern California, the Northern Rockies, and the Pacific Northwest. The CPC 6–10 day outlooks call for a high probability of above-normal temperatures east of the Rockies while the West is expected to be below-normal. Below-normal precipitation is forecasted for the Eastern Tier and Desert Southwest while there is a high probability of above-normal precipitation in the western portions of the Midwest and South, Northern Great Basin, Northern Rockies, Pacific Northwest, and across the Plains states.


Author(s):
David Simeral, Western Regional Climate Center

View a printable narrative here.

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