U.S. Drought Monitor Report for the Week Ending May 28 (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: Heavy rain returned to the northern Plains and
upper Midwest late in the drought-monitoring period, further
easing or eradicating lingering long-term drought and turning
residual drought to flooding in some of the hardest-hit areas.
By late May, minor to moderate flooding was underway at nearly
100 river gauges in the western Corn Belt, with major flooding
occurring in a few locations. For example, the Skunk River near
Sigourney, Iowa, crested 9.93 feet above flood stage on May 28,
surpassing the March 1960 high-water mark by a little over seven
inches. Similarly, the Little Sioux River at Correctionville,
Iowa, climbed 6.27 feet above flood stage on May 28, the third-
highest crest in that location behind 10.34 feet in June 1891
and 6.86 feet in April 1965. Local downpours also dotted the
southeastern Plains, while a sustained period of heavy rain (and
high-elevation snow) nearly eradicated dryness (D0) and drought
(D1) from New York and New England. Meanwhile, little or no
precipitation fell from California to the central and southern
High Plains, further sharpening the gradient between drought and
non-drought areas across the nation’s mid-section.

The East: Heavy precipitation fell across New York and New
England, starting on May 21 and ending several days later.
Burlington, Vermont, received 7.47 inches of rain from May 21-
26, accounting for 51 percent of its year-to-date precipitation
of 14.73 inches. Cold air accompanied the Northeastern storm,
resulting in some high-elevation snow accumulations. Vermont’s
highest peak, Mount Mansfield, received 13.2 inches of snow on
May 25-26. In New York, a trace of snow fell on May 24--later
than ever before recorded--in Syracuse and Binghamton. The
previous record for Syracuse had been May 17, 1973; Binghamton
had received a trace of snow on May 18, 1973 and 2002. As a
result of the heavy precipitation, the coverage of moderate
drought (D1) was reduced to a small area in southern New
England. The coverage of abnormal dryness was also reduced
substantially in New York and New England.

Farther south, however, scattered showers were not enough to
result in a significant change in the coverage of abnormal
dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1) in the central
Appalachians. The same was true in the southern Mid-Atlantic
coastal plain, where scattered showers and thunderstorms
provided local relief from long-term precipitation deficits.
Across the northern part of Florida’s peninsula, locally heavy
showers chipped away at dryness (D0) and moderate to severe
drought (D1 to D2). In contrast, dry conditions persisted in
southern Alabama and environs, allowing for some development of
moderate drought (D1). In Dothan, Alabama, March 1 - May 28
rainfall totaled just 5.56 inches (45 percent of normal).

The Upper Midwest: Major reductions in the coverage of dryness
and drought occurred again. In Minnesota, Rochester’s record-
setting precipitation totals for May and March-May reached 9.52
and 19.16 inches, respectively. Rochester’s previous records had
been 8.41 inches in May 1982 and 15.87 inches in the spring of
2001. River flooding developed not only in the western Corn
Belt, but also in parts of northern North Dakota. In Grafton,
North Dakota, the Park River (4.20 feet above flood stage on May
23) rose to its highest level since April 1950, when the river
crested 4.52 feet above flood stage. During the latest drought-
monitoring period, the axis of heaviest precipitation (locally 4
inches or more) cut across southeastern South Dakota and
northwestern Iowa, where some locations experienced two-category
reductions from severe drought (D2) to lingering subsoil
moisture shortages (D0).

The Great Plains: The gradient between improving conditions and
worsening drought continued to sharpen. Major improvements in
the drought situation were noted across the northern half of the
region. In South Dakota, the portion of rangeland and pastures
rated good to excellent rose to 30% on May 26, up 16 percentage
point from a week ago. Similarly, South Dakota’s rangeland and
pastures rated very poor fell from 51 to 29% during the week
ending May 26. Both of the change numbers (+16 and -22
percentage points, respectively) led the nation. Farther south,
however, exceptional drought (D4) remained a fixture on the
central and southern High Plains. Rain came too late for winter
wheat in South Dakota (64% very poor to poor on May 26) and
Nebraska (52%), and the maturing crop continued to suffer in
parts of Texas (76%), Oklahoma (54%), Colorado (49%), and Kansas
(45%). From late March to early May, several freezes further
damaged an already drought-stressed wheat crop on the southern
High Plains. As the drought-monitoring period progressed, local
downpours developed in Texas. For example, San Antonio, Texas,
endured its second-wettest day on record, with a 9.87-inch total
on May 25. The only wetter day in San Antonio occurred on
October 17, 1998, when 11.26 inches fell. Prior to May 25, San
Antonio’s wettest day in May had been May 31, 1937, when 6.82
inches fell.

The West: Only the northern tier of the region--mainly north of
the existing areas of dryness and drought--received appreciable
precipitation during the drought-monitoring period. On May 26,
USDA reported that at least 40% of the rangeland and pastures
were rated very poor to poor in five of the eleven Western
States. New Mexico topped the list, with 91% of its rangeland
and pastures rated very poor to poor, followed by Arizona (66%),
Nevada (65%), California (55%), and Colorado (45%). Below-
average statewide reservoir storage remained a concern in
several Western States, including Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New
Mexico, and Oregon.

Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico: There were no changes to the
depictions for Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico. Hawaii’s western
islands (Oahu westward) remain free of dryness and drought.
However, islands from Molokai eastward are still experiencing
significant drought in leeward areas. USDA reported that
pastures on the northern portion of the Big Island (North and
South Kohala Districts) have exhibited greening from rainfall
received in the past few weeks. Some of Hawaii’s heaviest rain
fell in windward sections of the Big Island on May 25-26, when
24-hour totals included 3.79 inches in Glenwood and 3.57 inches
in Piihonua. Meanwhile, little or no precipitation fell in
Alaska’s existing areas of abnormal dryness (D0) and moderate
drought (D1). Alaska’s late-arriving spring finally got
underway, following a final round of cold, sometimes snowy
weather. After breaking its May snowfall record (10.8 inches),
Nome’s temperature climbed to 53°F on May 25. It was Nome’s
first reading of 40°F or greater since October 13, 2012.
Fairbanks (82°F on May 27) recorded its first 80-degree reading
since July 26, 2012. Like last week, there was no drought (or
dryness) in depicted in Puerto Rico.

Looking Ahead: During the next 5 days (May 30 - June 3), an
active weather pattern will cover the nation’s mid-section. A
slow-moving storm will drift northward into the Dakotas on May
30, then slide eastward into the Great Lakes region by June 1.
Along the storm’s trailing cold front, a multi-day severe
weather outbreak can be expected across portions of the Plains,
Midwest, and Mid-South. The cold front should reach the Atlantic
Seaboard in early June. During the next 5 days, additional
rainfall amounts could reach 1 to 3 inches on the northern
Plains and 2 to 6 inches from the east-central Plains into the
lower Great Lakes region, including the middle Mississippi
Valley. In contrast, mostly dry weather will prevail from
California into the Southwest and along the southern Atlantic
Coast, except for heavy showers in southern Florida. Hot weather
will prevail in advance of the storm, especially across the
nation’s northeastern quadrant, while cool conditions will trail
the system into the Plains and upper Midwest. By early June, hot
weather will develop in the Pacific Coast States.

The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for June 4-8 calls for near- to
above-normal temperatures nearly nationwide, although cooler-
than-normal conditions will prevail in the Dakotas and along the
Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, below-normal precipitation in the western
Gulf Coast region and west of the Rockies will contrast with
wetter-than-normal weather across much of the Plains, upper
Midwest, and Atlantic coastal plain.
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