U.S. Drought Monitor Report for the Week Ending Jan. 29 (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:

The Northeast: Last week brought with it well below normal
temperatures and virtually no precipitation across the region,
leading to no changes with regard to the remaining D0.

Mid Atlantic: After back-to-back wet weeks for most of the
region, things dried out and cooled down considerably this past
week, resulting in a status quo depiction on the map.

The Southeast: The Southeast also turned predominantly dry and
warmer this week. The most notable changes occurred in Georgia,
South Carolina and Florida. The border region along the Savannah
River between Georgia and South Carolina saw an expansion of D3
to the coast along with a deepening of D2 in southern South
Carolina and southern Georgia. Florida saw a 1-category
expansion in D0 across most of the Florida Peninsula along with
D1 and D2 expansion also noted in the Panhandle. In addition,
there was also a slight pushing south and west of D1 and D2 in
southern Alabama where recent rains have missed and the dry
trend continues to intensify.

The South: Very warm temperatures (10 to 15 degrees above normal
was commonplace) and dryness marked last week’s weather across
most of the region. That, coupled with a return to drier times,
leads to mostly minor shifts and slight deterioration across
most of Texas and southwestern Oklahoma as well. Arkansas
remains unchanged from last week but the recent wet pattern
continues to bode well for them, particularly in central and
northeastern reaches.

Midwest: There was some late period precipitation across
northeastern Iowa, northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin this
past week, but given the deficits, lack of impacts and frozen
top soils, it isn’t enough to move the drought off its mark, so
status quo is the word this week.

The Plains: The region remained unseasonably warm except for the
Dakotas, but all shared in the all-too-common persistent dryness
with no major precipitation outbreaks occurring last week. As
such, the drought is firmly entrenched as we roll toward
February. The relative lack of winter in back-to-back years will
certainly place a much greater emphasis on well above-normal
spring rains if the region is to have any real chance of shaking
this drought. Same song, fifth verse with no changes of note on
the map this week in what is now becoming the epicenter of the
2013 drought.

The West: The West saw a mixed bag on both the temperature and
precipitation fronts last week as much of the Rocky Mountain
spine region and the Southwest experienced well above normal
temperatures. The Pacific Northwest remained the exception by
staying cooler and wetter. The big winner this week was seen
across central Arizona, where anywhere from 2-4 inches or more
was observed, bringing about 1-category improvements to the D1-
D3 drought. Longer-term dryness/drought is still a concern, but
this system provided a much-needed shot-in-the-arm of moisture.
Northwestern New Mexico shared in the bounty of this same
system, but not nearly to the degree seen in central Arizona and
southwestern Colorado. However, this was enough to remove the D3
from New Mexico, although many basins are still running below
normal with regard to snow water equivalent (SWE) levels,
meaning the severe drought (D2) remains. Same goes for
southwestern Colorado, where the system helped boost SWE values,
but not enough to move them out of D2 given the chronic dryness
stretching back to last winter. Ample rains along the southern
coast of California lead to a 1-category improvement from D1 to
D0 and a push of the D1 westward off the coast from San Diego to
Santa Barbara. Finally, well to the north in and around the
Idaho Panhandle and northwestern Montana, precipitation last
week leads to a trimming of the D0, primarily on the Montana
side of the Divide, although the D0 is still left intact (albeit
in a diminished state given the lagging SWE).

Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico: The rains of recent weeks have
brought some improvements to parts of the Hawaiian Islands and
this trend seems to still be occurring, but this week’s map
remains unchanged as local impact assessments continue to weigh
short-term improvement vs. the long-term chronic drought that
has persisted since 2008.

Conditions remain unchanged in Alaska and on Puerto Rico.

Looking Ahead:  The NWS HPC 5-Day forecast calls for a nice
potential storm system to bring moisture to the Pacific NW and
into the northern Rockies. Another system will push eastward,
bringing with it good chances for 1-2 inches of rain, or more,
to the Gulf Coast region, and up the Appalachian spine into the
Northeast. Temperatures are expected to be above normal across
most of the West and central-southern Plains. Below-normal
readings will be most pronounced in the Great Lakes region and
unseasonably cool weather is expected to encroach across the
rest of the East Coast and down into Florida.

The CPC 6-10 day outlook (February 5 thru February 9) is showing
a strong likelihood for above-normal temperatures across the
Southwest, South, Great Plains and Midwest. The New England
region and north coast of California and south coast of Oregon
can expect below-normal readings. As for precipitation, the wet
trend is expected to continue across a good portion of the
Desert Southwest and within the Midwest and Northeast. Drier
times are to be expected along the Gulf Coast and into the
coastal Carolinas, enveloping all of Florida as well.
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