U.S. Drought Monitor Report for the Week Ending Nov. 13 (Text)

Following is the text of the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor as released by the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska:


A Pacific storm system and associated cold front slowly tracked
across the lower 48 States during the week, producing welcome
and beneficial precipitation to portions of the Northwest,
Rockies, Great Plains, Midwest, and lower Mississippi Valley. As
the period commenced, a Nor’easter off the middle and northern
Atlantic Coast brought unseasonably heavy snow (up to a foot) to
some areas devastated by Superstorm Sandy. In the West, the
storm system dropped the largest precipitation totals on the
mountains, with lesser amounts on lower elevation sites. As the
system moved into the Nation’s midsection, Gulf moisture was
tapped, producing swaths of moderate to heavy showers (more than
an inch) from central Kansas northeastward into the UP of
Michigan, and from northeastern Texas northeastward into
southern Indiana and central Kentucky. Unfortunately, some parts
of the country, namely the Southwest, southern and north-central
Plains, and the eastern Gulf and southern Atlantic Coast States,
missed the bulk of the precipitation and conditions persisted or
worsened. Temperatures averaged below normal in the West and
East, with above-normal readings in the southern and central
Plains into the upper Midwest. In Hawaii, mostly dry weather
prevailed early in the period, but trade wind showers coupled
with a nearby upper-level trough enhanced the east side rains
later in the week. Southwestern and extreme southeastern Alaska
received moderate to heavy precipitation.

The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic: Ten days after
Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy devastated coastal sections of New
Jersey, New York, Long Island, and southern New England with a
huge storm surge and 70+ mph winds, a Nor’easter dropped up to a
foot of snow on inland sections, including 4.7 inches at New
York’s Central Park, 4.8 inches at New Brunswick, NJ, 8.3 inches
at Bridgeport, CT, and 11 to 13 inches from cooperative stations
in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, NJ. In central New York,
moderate precipitation (0.5 to 1 inch) was enough to maintain
long-term D0, but not enough to remove the 90- and 180-day
deficits of 2 to 4 and 4 to 8 inches, respectively.

Farther south, rainfall totals decreased in south-central
Virginia from west to east, with 0.5 to 1.1 inches in the
Appalachians to 0.1 to 0.3 inches in the Piedmont. In the short-
term (30- and 60-days), subnormal precipitation has fallen,
accumulating deficiencies of 2 to 4 inches. With similar short-
term conditions in adjacent central and northern North Carolina,
the D0 areas were merged, and the D1 in Virginia was adjusted
over the largest deficits at 60- and 90-days. This also matched
the 7-, 14-, and 28-days average USGS stream flows which have
dropped below the 25th percentile, with a few sites below the
tenth percentile.

The Southeast: In addition to the D0 expansion of southern
Virginia into North Carolina (see Northeast and Mid-Atlantic
summary), weekly totals of 0.75 to 1.25 inches in western
sections (Appalachians) kept abnormal dryness from developing
there. Farther east, however, lighter totals (less than 0.5
inches), accumulating short-term deficits (at 60-days, 3 to 6
inches), and dropping USGS stream flows (at 1-, 7-, 14-, and 28-
days), some below the tenth percentile, called for deterioration
in southern and eastern sections of Georgia and South Carolina.
For example, Brunswick, GA, was over 5 inches below normal since
September 1, and only received 0.03 inches from the recent
storm. D1 and D2 was also expanded in east-central and northern
Georgia as both short and long-term deficiencies grew. At least
some decent rain (0.5 to 1 inch) fell on parts of northwestern
Georgia, preventing further degradation there. In South
Carolina, the dry weather has kept conditions favorable for
harvesting, but small grain seeding remains slow until rainfall
increases. In SC and GA, statewide topsoil moisture was rated 67
and 74 percent short and very short, respectively, while GA
subsoil moisture was rated 71 percent short and very short.

The Southern Plains and Delta: This region was a mixed bag with
respect to the drought as southern sections fared poorly (dry)
while northern and eastern areas saw 1 to 2 inches of rain. In
Texas, another mostly dry week, except in the extreme northeast
(1 to 2 inches), called for a general half category
deterioration in most of the state, with D0 expanding into
southwestern Louisiana. In contrast, most of Oklahoma (minus the
Panhandle), Arkansas, and western Tennessee measured widespread
decent precipitation, with a band of 1.5 to 2.5 inches falling
from northeastern Texas northeastward into central Tennessee.
Accordingly, 1-category improvements were made where the
heaviest rain swath occurred. In Oklahoma, the rains (0.5 to 1
inch) were welcome, but strong winds and unseasonable warmth
ahead of the cold front further stressed winter wheat and
pastures. North-central sections remained a huge concern since
it is the state’s primary wheat production area. The recent
rains bought the wheat crop a few more days before additional
deterioration resumes if there is no precipitation. As a result,
only a few improvements were made in central and northeastern
Oklahoma where more than an inch fell. According to Oklahoma
State’s Agricultural Economics Department, the 2011-12 Water
Year agricultural damages were estimated at $427 million, while
the 2010-11 Water Year agricultural damages were approximately
$1.6 billion, or approximately $2 billion in agricultural losses
during the 2-year period (Oct. 1, 2010-Sep. 30, 2012).

Central and Northern Plains and Midwest: Widespread, welcome
rains (1 to 1.5 inches) fell from central Kansas northeastward
into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, while another 1 to 1.5
inch swath fell from southern Missouri northeastward into
central Illinois and Indiana. Elsewhere in the Midwest,
generally 0.5 to 1 inch of rain was reported. The exceptions
included western Kansas, western two-thirds of Nebraska, most of
South Dakota, southern North Dakota, and western Minnesota (less
than 0.5 inches). With little runoff, minimal or no evaporation
and crop uptake, lower temperatures, and unfrozen ground, this
precipitation was especially beneficial as much of it went into
recharging the deficient topsoil (and hopefully the subsoil)
moisture. Accordingly, some 1-category improvements were made in
central and northeastern Kansas (D4 to D3 central; D3 to D2
northeast), Missouri (D3 to D2 northwest; D2 to D1 west and
south), Iowa (D3 to D2 west-central; D2 to D1 east), Wisconsin
(D2 and D1 improvements in south and west-central; D0 to nothing
in central), eastern South Dakota (D3 to D2), western Kentucky
(some D0-D2 reductions), and Illinois (D1 to D0 west-central; D0
to nothing central and southern). In northern North Dakota, the
precipitation fell as heavy snow (8 to 18 inches), requiring
additional 1-category modifications there. No changes were made
in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota as the rainfall totals
were less than in aforementioned areas. In contrast, recent
dryness in north-central South Dakota increased the D2 (D1
reduction). Although this week’s precipitation was welcome and
beneficial, there are still long-term hydrologic drought impacts
(streams, rivers, ponds, lakes) that need to recover. Continued
precipitation during the non-growing season will be key for
adequate moisture for next year’s Midwest and Plains crops and
pastures, and for reducing hydrological drought impacts.

The West: A slow-moving Pacific storm system brought
precipitation to most of the region, but the greatest weekly
totals were found in the mountains. 1 to 3 inches of
precipitation fell on the Cascades, Sierra Nevada, northern and
central Rockies, Utah’s Wasatch and Uinta Ranges, and across
east-central Arizona. With a generally stormy weather pattern
affecting the Northwest since mid-October and the 2012-13 Water
Year off to a good start (basin average precipitation between
100 and 150 percent of normal), some additional improvements
were made along the D0 to D3 western and northern edges in Idaho
and Montana. The most noticeable modifications were made across
western and northern Montana as persistent precipitation the
past 4 weeks has eliminated short- to medium-term deficiencies,
and has instead produced surpluses at 30-, 60-, and 90-days. The
central Sierra Nevada was also upgraded from D1 to D0 as 1 to
1.5 inches of precipitation bumped its basin average
precipitation up to 82 percent of normal from 77 percent a week
ago. In northern Utah, 2 to 3 inches of precipitation in the
Wasatch and Uinta Mountains improved drought by 1-category as
basin average precipitation increased 10 to 20 percentages from
a week ago to above normal (101 to 112 percent), and snow water
content jumped to 150 percent of normal. In the Southwest, 1.5
to 2.5 inches of precipitation in east-central Arizona and west-
central New Mexico slightly eased back D2 in those areas. Some
slight adjustments were made in central Colorado: D2 was
expanded into eastern Eagle and Summit counties which has seen a
poor start to the Water Year and missed out on the most recent
storm; some improvement was made in northeastern Colorado as
normal October precipitation has kept winter wheat conditions
fair; and D2 was trimmed in Douglas and Elbert counties to
better match conditions.

Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico: In Hawaii, mostly dry weather
continued into November as little or no rain fell on leeward
sites while windward stations measured only light amounts (less
than 0.25 inches) at best. Late in the period, however,
returning trade wind showers and a nearby upper level trough
enhanced the rainfall totals on eastern sides. Several windward
stations reported 24-hour totals of 0.25 inches or more ending 8
am HST on November 13, and numerous sites recorded 24-hour
totals of 0.50 inches or more ending on November 14, preventing
the east-side D0 from deteriorating.

No change was made in northern Alaska as the ground has frozen
for the season. Conditions will be assessed during the late
spring thaw. There is no dryness or drought in Puerto Rico.

Looking Ahead: During the next 5 days (November 15-19), a
relatively tranquil weather pattern will envelop the Nation’s
midsection. Another Nor’easter is expected to develop and affect
the southern and middle Atlantic Coast States later in the
period, while another Pacific storm system impacts the western
quarter of the U.S., possibly reaching the Rockies by Sunday or
Monday. In between the two systems, little or no precipitation
is expected to fall. Temperatures are forecast to average above
normal from the Intermountain West eastward into the upper
Midwest and the southern Plains. Subnormal readings are expected
in the southern Atlantic Coast States and along the California
Coast.

For the 6-10 day outlook (November 20-24), the odds favor above
normal precipitation in the Northwest eastward into the upper
Midwest, with subnormal precipitation likely from the Four
Corner States eastward into the Southeast, and in Alaska.
Chances for above normal temperatures are good across the
western half of the Nation and into New England, with the
highest odds in the North-Central States. Subnormal temperature
probabilities are largest in the eastern Gulf and southern
Atlantic Coast States, and in Alaska.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Rose in Washington at srose31@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Marco Babic at mbabic@bloomberg.net

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