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U.S. Drought Monitor Report for the Week Ending April 30 (Text)

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

Summary:  Periods of locally heavy rain provided drought relief
in central and southern portions of the nation, while dry
weather with sharp temperature contrasts exacerbated drought
from the central High Plains into central and western Texas.
The Upper Midwest continued to deal with long-term precipitation
deficits despite seasonal spring flooding, while an early end to
the western Water Year caused drought to intensify across the
Southwest.   Short-term dryness was also beginning to have an
impact in parts of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast:  Drier-than-normal weather along
with mostly seasonable temperatures prevailed.   Over the past
90 days, precipitation deficits of 3 to 7 inches (locally 50
percent of normal or less) have caused streamflows to drop below
the 20th percentile in many of the newly expanded D0 (Abnormally
Dry) areas.  Similar streamflow levels were noted in northern
West Virginia, where D0 was expanded slightly.  Much of the
northern Mid-Atlantic and Northeast is dealing with increasingly
dry conditions, and will need to be monitored over the upcoming
weeks for potential impacts.

Southeast:  Locally heavy rain alleviated Moderate Drought (D1)
and further eased lingering long-term dryness (D0).  Rain was
heaviest (1-4 inches, locally more) from northern and eastern
Georgia into southern and western North Carolina, which allowed
for the removal of D1 in this region.  Streamflows continued to
exhibit recovery, and were mostly at or above the 20th
percentile (D0 equivalent) at the end of the monitoring period.
In contrast, northern Florida’s D2 (Severe Drought) area was
mostly warm and dry, with declining soil moisture and low
streamflows (10th percentile or lower) indicative of the
drought’s localized but pronounced impacts.  In southern
Florida, a wet April coupled with additional showers during the
past week eliminated D0 from the region.

Northern Plains and Upper Midwest:  Long-term drought lingered
despite seasonal snow melt and river flooding, although some
improvements were made using updated precipitation data and
reports from the field.  A narrow band of 0.50 to 1.50 inches of
rain eased D0 (Abnormal Dryness) and D1 (Moderate Drought) from
south-central North Dakota into northwestern Minnesota.   In
addition, updated 90- and 180-day precipitation data supported
reducing or eliminating areas of D0 and D1 in southeastern North
Dakota and neighboring environs, with totals now at or above 100
percent of normal (locally up to 150 percent) at both time
scales.  Likewise, D3 (Extreme Drought) was reduced in northeast
Wyoming and southwestern South Dakota, where near-normal
precipitation over the past three months has eased drought
impacts.  Despite the general consensus that conditions continue
to improve, long-term indicators, including the 6-, 9-, and 12-
month Standardized Precipitation Indices, show underlying, long-
term drought persists in the core D1 and D2 areas of the Upper
Midwest.  In contrast, short-term dryness has reduced soil
moisture in north-central North Dakota, where a small area of D0
was added.

Central Plains and middle Mississippi Valley:  Drought
intensified over the central High Plains, while rain provided
additional drought relief to eastern portions of the region.
Widespread showers (0.75-2.0 inches) in eastern Kansas and
southwestern Missouri eased drought, with 2-week totals
exceeding 4 inches in eastern-most D0 and D1 areas.  Meanwhile,
above-normal precipitation in northeastern Colorado improved
winter wheat conditions, and drought impacts continued to lessen
in this area; consequently, Extreme Drought (D3) was mostly
eliminated from this corner of the state.  In contrast, dry, hot
weather (upper 80s and lower 90s, degrees F) prevailed from
Nebraska into southeastern Colorado, where drought intensity
either held steady or increased.  In particular, Exceptional
Drought (D4) expanded across southeastern Colorado, where poor
pastures and winter wheat conditions reflect the ongoing impacts
of protracted dryness (6-month precipitation locally less than
30 percent of normal); the Colorado winter wheat crop was rated
54 percent poor to very poor as of April 28, 2013, while Kansas
wheat stood at 39 percent.

South-Central U.S.:  Sharp temperature fluctuations were
accompanied by rain in the east and south, while unfavorably dry
conditions prevailed over the High Plains.  From the
southeastern Plains into the western Delta, 1 to 3 inches of
rain (locally more) eased long-term drought in eastern Oklahoma
and northwestern Arkansas; an additional week of rain will
likely eliminate the lingering D0 in northwestern Arkansas.
Meanwhile, widespread, locally heavy downpours (1-6 inches)
eased Moderate to Exceptional Drought (D1-D4) across the
southern third of Texas, with totals exceeding 6 inches in
western and southern Houston as well as north of Victoria.
Meanwhile, scorching heat (highs reaching 97-99°F) extended from
the Big Bend northward into eastern New Mexico and the Texas
Panhandle.  This heat followed an early-period cold snap, when
lows dropped into the teens.  With no rain and increasing heat,
drought intensity and coverage expanded across the southern half
of the High Plains.  As of April 28, 2013, the percent of the
southern Plains’ winter wheat rated poor to very poor stood at
41 percent in Oklahoma and 68 percent in Texas, both increases
from last week.

Western U.S.:  The largely disappointing water year neared an
end, with many areas of the west ending the season with bleak
spring runoff prospects and increasing drought concerns.
Showers were confined to the non-drought areas of the Pacific
Northwest, where 1 to 2 inches (liquid equivalent) were reported
during the monitoring period.  Elsewhere, above-normal
temperatures and dry weather maintained or increased drought
intensity and coverage.

There was little change from California into the Great Basin and
central Rockies.  However, D0 (Abnormal Dryness) was expanded up
the coast into northwestern California and southwestern Oregon,
where 90-day precipitation averaged 35 to 60 percent of normal.
Extreme Drought (D3) was reduced in southwestern Wyoming, where
reports from the field indicated conditions have improved in
this data-spare area.

Farther south, water-year precipitation shortfalls increased
from the southern San Joaquin Valley (40 to 55 percent of
normal)  into southern Nevada (30 to 50 percent of normal) and
western Arizona (less than 50 percent of normal) .   The water-
year’s disappointing conclusion was further evidenced by the
last 3 months, when rainfall tallied less than 20 percent of
normal from the southern California Coast into western Arizona
and much of central and eastern New Mexico.  Consequently,
Moderate (D1) to Severe (D2) Drought was expanded in these
locales.  In New Mexico, the past 36 months (Apr 2010 - Mar
2013) have been the 4th driest period on record for the state,
the driest since the 1950s.  Exceptional Drought (D4) was
expanded to include much of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Valley as
well as portions of east-central and northeastern New Mexico.

Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico:  In Alaska, locally heavy
precipitation (liquid equivalent of almost 2 inches) eased D0 in
southeastern portions of the state, while updated water-year
precipitation values in the 50th percentile or higher supported
additional D0 removal in northeastern Alaska.  In contrast, D0
was expanded onto central and southern portions of the Kenai
Peninsula where water-year precipitation was in the 10th
percentile or lower.  In Hawaii, there were no changes to the
drought depiction despite nearly an inch of rain across the
state’s western islands.  In Puerto Rico, locally heavy showers
(2- 8 inches) boosted streamflows and all but eliminated
Abnormal Dryness (D0) from the island.

Looking Ahead:  A developing storm over the nation’s mid-section
will become cut off from atmospheric steering, causing the
system to drift eastward into the Mid-South by week’s end and
the Southeast early next week.  Five-day precipitation totals
could reach 2 to 4 inches across the east-central Plains, upper
Midwest, lower and middle Mississippi Valley, and eastern Gulf
Coast region.  In addition, late-season snow will fall from the
central Rockies into the Upper Midwest.  In contrast, little or
no precipitation will occur in the Northeast and west of the
Rockies.  Unusually cool air will trail the storm, resulting in
widespread freezes on May 2-3 as far south as the southern High
Plains.  Warmth will linger, however, from the eastern Corn Belt
into the Northeast.  The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for May 7-11
calls for above-normal temperatures in the West and Northeast,
while cooler-than-normal conditions will prevail across much of
the Corn Belt and from the central and southern Plains into the
Southeast.  Meanwhile, near- to below-normal precipitation from
the Northwest into the northern Plains and western and northern
Corn Belt will contrast with wetter-than-normal weather in the
central and southern Rockies, portions of the Intermountain
West, and much of the eastern third of the nation.

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