U.S. Drought Monitor Report for the Week Ending July 24 (Text)

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

The discussion in the Looking Ahead section is simply a
description of what the official national guidance from the
National Weather Service (NWS) National Centers for
Environmental Prediction is depicting for current areas of
dryness and drought. The NWS forecast products utilized include
the HPC 5-day QPF and 5-day Mean Temperature progs, the 6-10 Day
Outlooks of Temperature and Precipitation Probability, and the
8-14 Day Outlooks of Temperature and Precipitation Probability,
valid as of late Wednesday afternoon of the USDM release week.
The NWS forecast web page used for this section is:

Weather Summary:   A strong upper-level ridge of high pressure
continued to dominate the nation’s weather this U.S. Drought
Monitor (USDM) week, bringing well above-normal temperatures to
much of the country east of the Rockies.  Beneath the core of
the high, hot and dry weather baked the central and southern
Plains to Ohio Valley.  Monsoon showers and thunderstorms
brought areas of rain to the West, cool fronts moving along the
high’s northern edge triggered scattered showers and
thunderstorms in the northern tier states, and a front skirting
the high dropped beneficial rain along its eastern and southern
peripheries.  July 22 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
reports indicated that 55 percent of the nation’s pasture and
rangeland was in poor to very poor condition, breaking last
week’s record.  In the Plains and Midwest states, crop losses
mounted, ranchers liquidated herds, and trees continued to drop
leaves and branches.  On July 25, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack
designated 76 additional counties in six states as drought
disaster areas, bringing the total for the 2012 crop year to
1369 counties across 31 states.  Over two dozen large wildfires
were burning by the end of the USDM week - most in the West but
several in the Plains.

The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic:  Light to locally moderate rain
fell across parts of the region.  The rains were generally
enough to keep the drought depiction status quo, although enough
fell to dent D0 and D1 in northern Maryland.  D1-D2 expanded
across the Chesapeake Bay and into northern Virginia where rains
were below-normal, and D0-D1 expanded in southern New England
which experienced subnormal precipitation and widespread low
stream levels.  According to USDA statistics, 80 percent or more
of the topsoil was rated short or very short of moisture in New
York, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, and half or more
of the pasture and rangeland was rated poor or very poor in
Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York.

The Southeast, Deep South, and Southern Texas:   Areas of
beneficial rain, locally over three inches, fell from the
central Appalachians to Tennessee Valley, central to coastal
North Carolina, the Lower Mississippi Valley, and parts of
western Florida.  D0-D2 were pulled back from West Virginia to
Tennessee, extreme northern Alabama, northwest Georgia, and
parts of North Carolina, and D0-D1 were reduced in Louisiana and
Mississippi.  But the showers and thunderstorms were spotty,
with many areas getting below-normal rainfall or hardly any at
all.  D0 expanded in southern and northeastern Florida, D1 was
added to the southern coast of North Carolina and expanded in
the Florida panhandle, and D1-D4 expanded in parts of Alabama
and Georgia.

The Great Plains to Midwest:   Frontal showers and thunderstorms
dropped locally an inch or more of rain over parts of the
Dakotas, Upper Mississippi Valley, and southern Great Lakes. In
the Dakotas and Minnesota it was enough to slightly trim a few
of the drought areas, but the 2+ inches from southern Wisconsin
to northern Indiana was able to only maintain status quo.  Most
other areas were not as lucky.  Pasture, rangeland, and crop
condition continued to deteriorate from the Colorado High Plains
to the Ohio and Mid-Mississippi valleys, and from Oklahoma to
the Dakotas.  Temperatures reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit or
hotter across parts of the Great Plains to Midwest every day
this week, and some locations have not had significant rain for
the last 30 days.  July 22 USDA statistics indicated over 90
percent of the topsoil was short or very short of moisture in
Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana,
and Ohio, with virtually all (99 percent) short or very short in
Missouri and Illinois.  Over 80 percent of the pasture and
rangeland was in poor or very poor condition in Kansas,
Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana.  Corn, Soybean,
Sorghum, and Alfalfa losses continued to mount, ponds dried up,
and wells failed in several of the states.  D0-D4 expanded

The West:  Monsoon showers dropped locally an inch or more of
rain to parts of the West, but amounts were mostly less than
half an inch.  D3 was eliminated in extreme southern Arizona, D2
and D3 were pulled back slightly in parts of New Mexico, and D0
shrank in western Montana.  But D3 expanded in western Nevada
and D0-D2 grew in central to northern California (mostly in the
San Joaquin Valley).  Over 80 percent of the topsoil was rated
short or very short of moisture in New Mexico, Colorado, and
Wyoming.  Three-fourths (75 percent) or more of the pasture and
rangeland was classified as poor or very poor in California,
Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado.

Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico:  The precipitation pattern was
mixed over Alaska this week, with drier-than-normal amounts
observed at the northern, southeastern interior, and most
panhandle stations, and above-normal precipitation at most
stations to the west.  It was a drier-than-normal week at most
Hawaiian stations, but drought conditions were consistent with
the existing depiction.  Locally 2 to 5 inches of rain fell over
parts of Puerto Rico this week.  The D0 in western Puerto Rico
was eliminated due to a re-evaluation of long-term conditions,
but otherwise the depiction over Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Alaska
remained unchanged from last week.

Looking Ahead:  Forecast models for July 25-30 show a front
piercing the upper-level high early in the period, bringing
scattered showers and thunderstorms to Great Plains and Midwest
core drought area.  Rainfall amounts may reach an inch in
places, with a few locations receiving possibly 2 or more
inches.  The heaviest amounts from the front and low pressure
system are expected to be in the Upper Great Lakes and
Northeast, where locally 3 inches or more of rain may fall.
Parts of the South could see an inch or more of rain as the
front makes its way to the Gulf Coast.  Monsoon showers could
drop up to an inch of rain, total, across the Four Corners
states, and frontal rains in the Northern Rockies could bring
scattered light showers, but the rest of the West should be dry.
Temperatures may dip from the frontal passage, but the week
should average warmer than normal for most of the country.

For July 31-August 8, dry weather is expected to dominate from
the West Coast to Northern Rockies, and from the Central to
Southern Plains.  Above-normal precipitation is forecast for the
Southwest and from the Upper Mississippi Valley to Ohio Valley,
parts of the Southeast, and from the Mid-Atlantic states to
coastal Northeast.  Above-normal temperatures are expected for
much of the country, especially the Rockies and Plains states,
while below-normal temperatures may hug the West Coast.  Western
Alaska is forecast to be wetter than normal, northern Alaska
warmer than normal, and the southern areas cooler than normal.
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