U.S. Drought Monitor Report for the Week Ending April 16 (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: The storm system that brought beneficial
moisture to parts of the central Plains and western Corn Belt
last week slowly trekked eastward. It dropped widespread
moderate to heavy precipitation (more than 2 inches) on the
remainder of the Corn Belt and Great Lakes region, and on the
Delta, Tennessee Valley, southern Appalachians, and South. Heavy
snows also blanketed portions of the northern Plains. Later in
the period, a new storm system produced light to moderate
precipitation in the Pacific Northwest, northern and central
Rockies, and northern Plains. Unfortunately, little or no
precipitation was observed in California and the Southwest,
Intermountain West, southern and central High Plains, and
portions of the southern and middle Atlantic Coast States. Light
showers covered most of Puerto Rico, showers increased on Kauai
and Oahu but were lacking on eastern islands of Hawaii, and
light to moderate precipitation was observed in southeastern and
east-central Alaska. Temperatures averaged above-normal in the
Southwest, Southeast, and mid-Atlantic, where highs topped 90
degrees F in the latter region early in the period. In contrast,
subnormal readings prevailed across the Northwest, Rockies,
Plains, upper Midwest, Great Lakes region, northern New England,
and Alaska. It was up to 20 degrees F below normal in the Black
Hills of South Dakota and in interior Alaska.

The Northeast: Widespread light to moderate precipitation (0.5
to 2 inches) fell across most of New England and the mid-
Atlantic, with heavier amounts (2 to 3 inches) occurring in the
eastern Great Lakes region. Accordingly, abnormal dryness was
removed from areas where 60 and 90-days deficits were greatly
reduced or alleviated, and the percent of normal was close to
100. This included western sections of Pennsylvania and New
York, eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey, and the D0
area in upstate New York and Vermont-New Hampshire was reduced.
Farther to the south and east, although 30-, 60-, and 90-day
deficiencies have increased, D0 was not introduced in
Connecticut and Massachusetts since most stations received an
inch of rain this week. But this area will need to be watched as
many 7-day average USGS stream flows have dropped below the 25th
percentile. In contrast, the heavy rains bypassed portions of
the eastern Ohio Valley and central Appalachians yet again.
Precipitation has been between 50 to 70 percent of normal since
mid-February, accumulating shortages between 2 and 4 inches. As
a result, abnormal dryness has developed from southeastern Ohio
into western Maryland.

The Southeast: The heaviest rains (more than 2 inches) fell
mainly on non-drought areas, although enough moisture (1 to 2
inches) was reported in Georgia and South Carolina to justify a
one category improvement. In the Carolinas, this year’s wet
weather continued to warrant improvements in central South
Carolina as D1 was diminished and the western D0 edge was
removed in central Georgia and western South Carolina. In
eastern Georgia and northeastern Florida, additional rains
slightly shrunk the D0 and D1 areas, although deficits still
remained at 6-months. In North Carolina, moderate rains along
the coast erased D0 there, but in northeastern sections, 30, 60,
and 90-day departures have been climbing, thus D0 was expanded.
In southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, and southern
Alabama, 2 to 5 inches of rain helped shrink the D0(L), but
longer-term deficits still lingered as normal precipitation is
large in this region. In Florida, hit and miss showers (2 to 4
inches) provided some relief along portions of the Atlantic
Coast, namely around the Cape Canaveral area (D1 to D0) and in
Palm Beach and Broward Counties (D0 to none). Elsewhere,
however, totals were lower, and conditions remained the same.

The Midwest: Heavy, widespread precipitation soaked much of the
Midwest, with most locations from southern Minnesota, central
Wisconsin, and lower Michigan southward all the way to the Gulf
Coast measuring at least 2 inches. Parts of northeastern Iowa
and southwestern Wisconsin were particularly drenched (4 to 6
inches of rain), as well as central lower Michigan. After last
week’s decent precipitation, soils finally thawing in southern
portions of the upper Midwest (southern Minnesota and
Wisconsin), and no drought changes previously made in most parts
of the upper Midwest due to the frozen soils, a broad one
category improvement was implemented for most areas in
Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Missouri. Where year-to-date
precipitation was 3 to 4 times normal, a two category reduction
was justified in northeastern Iowa, southeastern Minnesota, and
southwestern Wisconsin (D1 to none). In Iowa, the State
Climatologist Harry Hillaker noted that this was the wettest
week in terms of statewide average precipitation since June 2010
(2.90 inches, normal is 0.78). Not surprisingly, many daily and
7-day average USGS stream flows are in the upper 90th
percentile, with numerous streams and river flooding. In
Minnesota, State Climatologist Greg Spoden stated that the
southern one half of the state was nearly completely free of
subsoil frost, but the northern half remains blanketed by a
significant snow cover, with roughly the first six inches now
thawed. Similar conditions existed in Wisconsin. A few areas,
however, stayed status-quo in extreme northwestern and
northeastern Minnesota as year-to-date precipitation was not as
great as surrounding areas. As of April 14, USDA/NASS topsoil
moisture rated short or very short had dropped to 26, 22, 9, 5,
4, 3, 2, and 0 percent in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois,
Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Michigan, respectively.

Lower Mississippi Valley/Delta region: Similar to the Midwest,
widespread heavy rains (more than 2 inches) also provided one
category relief from abnormal dryness or drought from Missouri
southward into Louisiana. For the most part, where the heavy
rains missed last week, they hit this week in the Delta region.
The few exceptions where status-quo was kept because not enough
rain fell during the past two weeks was in extreme southern
Missouri and northern Arkansas (D0), northwestern Arkansas (D1),
and southwestern Arkansas and northeastern Texas (D1).
Unfortunately, only extreme eastern and north-central parts of
Texas observed decent rainfall as little or no precipitation
fell elsewhere in the state (see The Plains).

The Plains: After last week’s beneficial precipitation, some
amounts from that storm figured into this week’s totals since it
fell after the 12 GMT Tuesday April 9 cutoff. In addition, a
second storm system added to this week’s totals, allowing for
another decent week in much of the Plains with respect to
precipitation and drought improvements. The lone exception was
Texas, where only the north-central and extreme eastern sections
received decent (more than 0.5 inches) rain. In addition, parts
of the High Plains saw little or no precipitation (west Texas
northward into eastern Colorado-western Kansas and southwestern
Nebraska). As a result, some deterioration occurred in northern
and southern Texas, with extreme southern Texas nearly all in
D4. Elsewhere, weekly totals of 1 to 2 inches were common from
eastern Oklahoma northward into North Dakota, with many northern
locations receiving heavy snows. In Rapid City, SD, the April 8-
10 snow total was 28.2 inches, with Bismarck, ND, receiving 17.3
inches on April 14, an all-time 24-hour record. Many other
locations in southeastern Wyoming, western Nebraska, and the
western Dakotas measured 6 to 12 inches of snow. Some small one
category improvements were made in parts of eastern Oklahoma, in
eastern Kansas, in extreme eastern Nebraska and its Panhandle,
and throughout most of the Dakota where few or no changes were
made last week. In Kansas, although 1 to 1.5 inches fell, most
of it on Tuesday, many areas have not seen runoff or surface
water recharge. One producer in Saline County reported no runoff
from a 1 inch event that fell in 1 hour. Farther north, another
1.5 to 2 inches of rain allowed for a small one category
reduction (D3 to D2) in extreme eastern Nebraska, while 0.75 to
2 inches in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming over the past 2
weeks improved conditions from D4 to D3. The rest of Nebraska
remained status-quo, with totals generally between 0.5 to 1.5
inches (but lower in the southwest). In the Dakotas, after
minimal or no changes last week due to the 12 GMT Tuesday
precipitation cutoff, widespread decent precipitation (1 to 2.5
inches) resulted in a general one category improvement across
both North and South Dakota. In North Dakota, although much of
the state is snow covered, the State Climatologist Adnan Akyuz
reported that there has been significant infiltration into top
layers of the soil; extensive snow cover and its water
equivalency will further improve soil moisture into deeper
layers; above freezing daytime and below freezing nighttime
temperatures are causing slow melt and infiltration rather than
surface runoff; no shortages in the river systems; and the Red
River of the North is expected to reach major flood stage in
most locations along the river from Richland (in south) to
Pembina (in north) Counties.

The Rockies and Intermountain West: Light to moderate
precipitation (0.5 to 1.5 inches) was measured across most of
the Rockies, from Idaho and western Montana southward to
northern New Mexico, with heavier totals (1.5 to 3 inches) in
north-central Colorado, eastern and northwestern Wyoming, and
south-central Montana. The precipitation in these four areas was
enough to create small surpluses at short and medium-term
periods (out to 180-days), thus allowing for a one category
improvement. Colorado’s NRCS basin average snow water content
(SWC) rose to between 85 to 93 percent as of April 16, with
basin average water year-to-date (WYTD) precipitation increasing
to around 85 percent. A stakeholder in Eagle County, Colorado
stated that the recent snow the past few weeks has bought 4-6
weeks for their water supply. Many of Wyoming’s basin average
SWC increased to near normal, as did southern Montana. In
contrast, little or no precipitation fell on much of the
Intermountain West, but last week’s light to moderate
precipitation was enough to maintain conditions.

The Far West and Southwest: The bulk of this week’s
precipitation fell on the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies
(non-drought areas) as little or no precipitation was observed
in areas to the south. However, light to moderate precipitation
was reported last week in many areas that recorded little or
none this week, thereby maintaining conditions. An exception to
this was two straight weeks of dry weather across southern
California, southern Nevada, and most of Arizona, but this area
is headed into a normally dry time of the year. In the latter
area, a recent VegDri map indicated poor conditions in south-
central Arizona, and based upon this and other products, D0, D1,
and D2 was slightly increased in Gila and Graham counties. In
New Mexico, which was mostly dry last week, welcome
precipitation (0.25 to 1 inches) fell on western and northern
sections, resulting in status-quo conditions. Still, 97 percent
of the state’s topsoil moisture was rated short or very short on
April 14, according to NASS/USDA.

Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico: In Hawaii, although Kauai had
started the period rather dry and was headed for possible D1, a
cold front over the weekend that produced widespread 0.5 to 2
inches of rain helped to mitigate any deterioration. Late in the
period, Oahu was the beneficiary of the frontal showers as 0.5
to 1.5 inches fell there, stabilizing current conditions.
Elsewhere, little or no rain fell on the remaining islands, with
conditions at status-quo for now. With a recent lack of trade
wind showers, deteriorating conditions on the eastern slopes of
the Big Island was possible for the near future.

 In Alaska, a review of recent (30 and 60 days) and year-to-date
precipitation indicated above-normal totals in southern,
northern, and east-central sections, resulting in some removal
of the D0 in those regions.

Scattered light to moderate showers (0.2 to 1.5 inches, locally
to 3 inches), with the largest amounts in the northwestern and
southeastern sections of Puerto Rico, maintained conditions
across the island.

Looking Ahead:  The next 5 days (April 18-22) are expected to be
very wet in the middle of the country, with a swath of 3 inches
of precipitation expected from Oklahoma northeastward into
Michigan. Much of the eastern half of the nation should receive
decent precipitation, with parts of the pacific Northwest,
northern Rockies, and central Rockies and Plains expecting
moderate totals. Unfortunately, dry weather is forecast for most
of the Southwest and extreme southern Plains. Subnormal 5-day
average temperatures are predicted for the middle of the U.S.,
especially the North-Central States. Near to somewhat below-
normal readings are expected elsewhere, except in California and
southern Florida where temperatures should average above-normal.

For the ensuing 5 days (April 23-27), the odds favor wet weather
persisting in the eastern half of the Nation and in southeastern
Alaska, with drier than usual conditions in the West, Rockies,
High Plains, and western Alaska. Above-normal temperatures are
favored in the western third of the U.S. and northern New
England, with strong chances for subnormal readings from the
Plains eastward to the Appalachians.