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U.S. Drought Monitor Report for the Week Ending July 17 (Text)

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

Weather Summary:   A strong upper-level ridge of high pressure
dominated the nation’s weather this U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM)
week, bringing well above-normal temperatures to the central and
northern tier states.  Clouds with scattered showers and
thunderstorms along a stalled cool front kept temperatures
below-normal in the southern states.  But even then, maximum
temperatures were 90 degrees F or warmer across much of the
country, with maximums exceeding 100 from South Dakota to
Kansas.  Philip, South Dakota, reached 109 degrees on July 15.
Beneficial rain fell from southern Texas to the southern
Appalachians along the front.  Excessive rainfall occurred over
southeast Texas where amounts totaled 10 inches or more in
places, but elsewhere rainfall amounts were generally localized
with limited relief.  Monsoon showers and thunderstorms brought
above-normal rain to parts of the West, but the rain had little
impact on deficits which have accumulated over several months.
Weak fronts triggered localized showers and thunderstorms along
the northern tier states.  In between, hot and dry weather
dominated from the central Plains to Ohio Valley, Great Lakes,
and Northeast.

Another week of hot and dry weather continued the deterioration
of crop conditions in America’s breadbasket.  U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) reports for the week ending July 15 indicated
that 38 percent of the nation’s corn crop was in poor to very
poor condition, compared to 30 percent a week ago, and 30
percent of soybeans were in poor to very poor condition
(compared to 27 percent last week).  Fifty-four percent of the
nation’s pasture and rangeland was in poor to very poor
condition, which is a jump of 4 percent compared to last week
and is an all-time high for the 1995-2012 growing season weekly
history.  About two dozen large wildfires, mostly in the West,
were burning on July 17, about half the number compared to a
week ago.  Streamflows were in the lower tenth percentile of
record, or at record low values at several time scales, across
much of the Midwest and parts of the central Plains, West,
Southeast, and even parts of New England.  As a result, the
impacts boundaries were shifted to reflect short-term and long-
term drought conditions from the west coast to Ohio Valley and
Southeast, with short-term conditions indicated in the northern
tier states and from eastern Tennessee to New England.  Long-
term impacts were indicated for parts of the Southwest and
central Gulf of Mexico states.

The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic:  Light to locally moderate rain
fell across parts of the region.  But even the heaviest amounts,
which fell in southeastern Pennsylvania and extreme southeast
New York, were barely above normal for the week.  Most areas
were drier than normal and hot, with abnormally dry (D0)
conditions expanding across New York, southern New England,
northern Pennsylvania, and northern New Jersey.  Moderate
drought (D1) spread eastward from western New York, grew in the
Chesapeake Bay area, and was added to western Massachusetts.

The Southeast, Deep South, and Southern Texas:   Widespread
heavy rains and flooding in southeast Texas resulted in
significant improvement with the USDM depiction improving by two
categories in parts of Texas and adjacent Louisiana.  Elsewhere
along the front, drought conditions improved by one category in
a few local areas where 2-3 inches, or more, of rain fell, from
Mississippi and southern Arkansas to West Virginia, and from
Georgia to North Carolina.  But expansion occurred in a few
local areas missed by the rains in Alabama and North Carolina.
Exceptional drought (D4) expanded in western Kentucky and
southern Illinois, severe drought (D2) expanded in northwest
Kentucky, and D1 filled in the hole from northern Kentucky into
southwest Ohio.  D1 expanded in the Florida panhandle which had
below-normal rainfall and where low lake levels persisted.

The Great Plains to Midwest:   Unrelenting heat and lack of rain
continued the downward spiral of drought conditions.  D0 to D2
expanded across parts of the Plains from Texas to North Dakota,
from Missouri to Minnesota, and in the southern Great Lakes.
Extreme drought (D3) was introduced in Nebraska, Missouri, and
Wisconsin, and D3 expanded in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and
Indiana.  The city of Indianapolis, Indiana, implemented
mandatory water restrictions for the first time ever with many
trees dropping their leaves and going dormant months early.
Exceptional drought (D4) expanded in Arkansas and was introduced
in western Kansas.

The West:  Monsoon showers held drought deterioration at bay
across much of the West, but with amounts mostly an inch or
less, little improvement was seen.  Even the 2+ inch rains in
parts of Arizona were not enough to change the drought
depiction.  D4 in northwest Colorado was removed as conditions
improved from recent rains, and the D1 was removed and
surrounding D0 shrank in central Washington as precipitation in
recent weeks justified the reassessment there.  But drought
conditions deteriorated in other parts of the West.  D4 expanded
slightly in southeast Colorado, and D0-D2 expanded from
southeast Oregon and northern Utah to southern Montana.

Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico:  The week was mostly drier than
normal at most stations in Alaska and Hawaii, but no change was
made to the depiction there.  It was another dry week for much
of Puerto Rico, with accumulated deficits exceeding 8 inches for
the last two months.  D0 was added to the western and eastern
sections of the island which were persistently drier than normal
out to 90 to 180 days and where below-normal streamflows were
beginning to appear.

Looking Ahead:  Beneficial rains could continue from the Gulf of
Mexico coast to Mid-Atlantic States during July 18-23, with
amounts in excess of two inches in places.  Some of these rains
could spread into the eastern sections of the Tennessee and Ohio
valleys. Monsoon showers are expected in the Southwest and
showers and thunderstorms may develop with fronts moving across
the northern tier states, although rainfall amounts should
generally be less than an inch in these areas.  The southern to
central Plains will likely be devoid of precipitation.
Temperatures for much of the country east of the Rockies will be
above normal, with departures possibly 10 to 15 degrees above
normal from the central Plains to Great Lakes.

For July 24-August 1, dry weather is expected to dominate in the
southern to central Plains, across the Gulf coast, and along the
west coast, while monsoon showers should bring above normal
precipitation to the Southwest.  Above-normal temperatures
should maintain their hold across the interior U.S. from the
Plains to Southeast, with cooler-than-normal conditions along
the west coast.  Alaska is forecast to be wet with above-normal
temperatures in the northeast and cooler-than-normal conditions
in the west and south.

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