Coming on the heels of the ninth wettest summer on record for the U.S. (according to the National Climatic Data Center), continued rain this Drought Monitor week led to minor improvements in drought conditions from the Southwest, through the Southern Plains, and into the Midwest. A near-complete lack of precipitation means drought continues largely unabated through California and along the West Coast. Another week of continued dryness saw drought conditions intensifying across the Hawaiian Islands.
Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico
This week saw continued dryness across the Hawaiian Islands. Despite a few near-normal stream gauge readings, Hawaii continues to dry out. Abnormal Dryness (D0) was introduced across the state. Puerto Rico and Alaska remain unchanged this week.
Another week of beneficial moisture led to reduction in Abnormal Dryness (D0) in eastern Iowa. Cool temperatures and lower evapotranspiration, led to status quo across much of the area despite a lack of rain in many locales.
The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic
Another dry week in New England led to the expansion of Abnormal Dryness (D0) across southern Connecticut and Long Island, as well as onto Cape Cod. Lack of rain through the Mid-Atlantic also resulted in the expansion of Abnormal Dryness (D0) in eastern Pennsylvania, central Virginia, and near the border of Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland.
Locally heavy rain came to the Southern Plains during this Drought Monitor week. Areas from southeastern New Mexico and into western and northern Texas benefited. Texas also experienced improvements along the southern Gulf Coast. Central Texas saw some degradation in drought conditions as did the coastal area around Houston. Improvement continues in Kansas with the eradication of Extreme Dryness (D3) in the western part of the state and minor improvements in the north. Minor improvements were also experienced in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.
Abnormal Dryness (D0) expanded slightly in northern Alabama while wet conditions alleviated dryness in the southern part of that state. Georgia saw minor alleviation of drought in the southern part of the state.
Moisture fell in much of the West this week, with the exception of the West Coast and Pacific Northwest. Rain and occasional snow from Montana down to New Mexico led to
minor improvements throughout the area. Idaho and Oregon largely missed that precipitation and subsequently degradation in drought conditions took place along the southern border of those two states. The Pacific Coast continues to be the hotbed of fire activity in the country with all 15 current large incident fires occurring in California, Oregon, and Washington. To date, wildfires have burned 2,935,074 acres of the U.S., well below the 6,560,844 acre average for the same time of year (source: National Interagency Fire Center).
During the September 17- 22, 2014 time period, the remnants of Tropical Storm Odile are expected to bring heavy precipitation and flooding to the Southwest, particularly in southern Arizona and New Mexico. Beyond that event, precipitation is expected from the Southwest, through the Plains, and into the Ohio River Valley. At the same time, above normal temperatures are expected along the northern tier of the nation with warmer than average minimum temperatures across the nation with the exception of the East Coast.
For the ensuing 5 days (September 23-27, 2014), the odds favor normal to above-normal temperatures across the western U.S. and along the Gulf of Mexico Coast. Below-normal temperatures are favored around the Great Lakes and into New England. Above-normal precipitation is likely along the Gulf of Mexico Coast and in the Four Corners area of the Southwest. Below-normal precipitation is expected in the Plains and throughout much of the West. Alaska is likely to see above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation over much of the southern part of the state.
Author: Michael Brewer, National Climatic Data