National Drought Summary for October 21, 2014
The major weather system that affected much of the nation’s midsection last week left abundant precipitation this week from the mid-Atlantic up into New England. Hurricane Ana lost strength as it approached Hawaii and Tropical Storm Ana passed south of the Hawaiian Island dumping up to 10 inches of rain in its path.
Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico
Hurricane and then Tropical Storm Ana passed to the south of the Hawaiian Islands this week. The Islands saw widespread precipitation that alleviated most of the Abnormal Dryness (D0). Sufficient rains in Puerto Rico and cooling temperatures in Alaska resulted in those areas remaining unchanged on the Drought Monitor this week.
The lack of rain has been mounting in Minnesota in recent weeks. This week, areas of north and central Minnesota reached criteria for Abnormal Dryness (D0). Other areas of the region remained status quo.
The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic
The storm that affected much of the interior of the country moved through the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast this week. This resulted in a widespread area of one-plus inch rains and part of east-central Pennsylvania saw 4 inches or more. As a result, Moderate Drought (D1) and Abnormal Dryness (D0) were alleviated in a wide area from southern Virginia up through New York.
Heavy rain moved through the Plains last week and improvements in drought conditions were reflected then. This week was a relatively dry week in the region. There was some slight improvement in Abnormal Dryness (D0) in Kansas to line up more precisely with the beneficial precipitation of last week. Conversely, there was a slight expansion of Extreme Drought (D3) and Abnormal Dryness (D0) in Texas during this Drought Monitor week as areas of the Texas panhandle and central Texas have missed the beneficial rains.
Beneficial precipitation that fell in the Mid-Atlantic largely missed the Southeast. Southern Florida was the only area that saw significant precipitation in the last week. Cooler temperatures for the week moderated the impact of the dryness. There was a slight expansion of Abnormal Dryness (D0) around Augusta Georgia. This area is starting to see low streamflow values despite near-normal soil moisture.
Moisture fell in areas of the extreme Southwest and in the coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest this Drought Monitor week. As a result, areas of Moderate (D1) and Severe Drought (D2) were reduced in southwest New Mexico around Hidalgo County. Likewise the area of Extreme Drought (D3) was reduced in the northeast part of the state near San Juan County. There are numerous reports of improvement in pasture and grassland conditions but longer-term deficits remain over much of the state, resulting in conservative improvements. The same is true in the Pacific Northwest. Despite recent rains along the coast, long-term deficits are still being felt so improvement was held in check for another week. The rain has reduced the fire danger. As of October 17, only two large fires are burning in the country and they are both in California. To date, there have been 41,790 wildfires in 2014 that burned 3,070,737 acres. This is well below the 62,864 fire and 6,796,329 acre average of the last ten years (source: National Interagency Fire Center).
During the October 22- 27, 2014 time period, precipitation is expected in the Pacific Northwest, southern Florida, and New England. Warmer than normal temperatures are expected throughout most of the interior of the nation.
For the ensuing 5 days (October 28- November 1, 2014), the odds favor normal to above-normal temperatures across country with the exception of southeast Alaska. Above-normal precipitation is likely from the Pacific Northwest into the northern Great Plains and Upper Midwest, as well as in southern Florida and northwest Alaska. Below-normal precipitation is expected in a wide area from the Southwest through the Southern Plains and Southeast and up through the Lower Midwest and into the Mid-Atlantic and New England, as well as southeast Alaska.
Michael Brewer, NOAA/NCDC
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
S ... Short-Term, typically <6 months (e.g. agricultural, grasslands)
L ... Long-Term, typically >6 months (e.g. hydrology, ecology)