Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and the Midwest saw 3-5 inches of rain during the latest U.S. Drought Monitor period, bringing with it cooler temperatures and stalling harvest for a few days.
Outside of the Midwest and Plains, areas hurting for moisture did not receive any – California, Oregon and Washington also recorded well above normal temperatures, says this week's drought map author Mark Svoboda.
In the Northeast and along the East Coast into the Southeast, conditions were a mixed bag. New England experienced warmer and drier conditions, while the Mid-Atlantic saw a little more in the way of precipitation in parts of the western Carolinas and West Virginia.
Recent rains trimmed abnormal dryness in some areas of the mid-region and into South Carolina, although D0 remains intact across the central and east-central counties over into Georgia.
Another round of rains brought improvement to northern and western Mississippi, northern and western Alabama, and along the Alabama-Florida border in the extreme western Panhandle region where rainfall deficits are running on the order of 2 to 4 inches over the past 90 days.
Although conditions are normally dry this time of year, holdover deficits from late summer have put late-season stress on soils and pastures, which are in need of some good moisture recharge heading into the off-season given yet another relatively quiet tropical storm season, the Drought Monitor says.
In the Midwest and Plains, a large, slow-moving storm system brought heavy rains and flooding to eastern Nebraska, eastern Kansas, southwestern Iowa, northern Missouri, central Illinois and extreme western Indiana.
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One-category improvements are noted in these areas, leaving behind small pockets of abnormal dryness to moderate drought as the dryness/drought has been pushed farther south, Svoboda notes.
Harvest ground to a halt following the rains, which were enough to flood portions of fields in some cases. Farmers, however, reported a strong start to harvest prior to the rains.
Northeastern South Dakota, southeast North Dakota and extreme west-central Minnesota missed out on the rains. While the past month has been dry, Svoboda noted that the dryness isn't necessarily a bad thing – farmers in the region were able to move ahead with harvest.
Farther south, all but eastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas missed out on any substantial precipitation last week while above-normal temperatures returned for most locales across the region.
Rains in eastern Texas led to some slight trimming of the southern abnormally dry flank, but all other changes in Texas and Oklahoma were for the worse, Svoboda writes.
In the West, hot temperatures of 6-10 degrees above normal and dry conditions were widespread across coastal California all the way up to Washington.
Conditions remain unchanged this week on the map, however, as a critical new Water Year begins to spin up. With the 2014 Water Year in the books now, the National Weather Service in Sacramento issued some preliminary numbers that help put this drought into perspective. The Sacramento Water Supply Index came in as the 4th driest water year in terms of runoff in the 109-year period dating back to 1906.
Several of California's largest reservoirs are running at their second-lowest levels, behind only 1977. This is of particular importance given that the population has roughly doubled since the drought of 1977, Svoboda says.
Elsewhere across the region, good rains came to the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, resulting in some minor trimming of drought there. Drought was also trimmed from extreme southeast Colorado, northeast New Mexico, southwest Kansas and the extreme western Panhandle of Oklahoma.
Source: Mark Svoboda, National Drought Mitigation Center
The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced in partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.