The latest U.S. Drought Monitor doesn't bring welcome news for the hardest hit High Plains states as the area of land in D1-D4 conditions still exceeds 98% from the Dakotas to Kansas.
Significant portions of Kansas and northeastward welcomed rains this week, though western Kansas, some of Nebraska and most of South Dakota largely missed out. Any rains that did visit the area, however, helped recharge the topsoil and subsoil moisture. In general, some one-category improvements were made from central Kansas to Missouri, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Miskus notes that though many improvements were noted this week, there are still long term hydrologic drought impacts that have not been fully addressed.
Navigation on the Mississippi may be in jeopardy this winter, Waterway groups say. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is planning to store future precipitation within the Mississippi River Headwaters reservoirs in effort to improve water flow near St. Louis, Mo.
Some areas of the Southern Plains and Delta saw decent rains while others stayed dry. A half-category degradation was added in Texas as most of the state was dry this week. David Miskus of the Climate Prediction Center notes that parts of Oklahoma was also dry, concerning wheat farmers in the area.
Oklahoma State University's Agricultural Economics Department estimated 2011-12 Water Year ag damages at $427 million, adding on to existing damages from the previous year that totaled about $1.6 billion. In total, about $2 billion in ag losses have been estimated during the two year period of Oct. 1, 2010 to Sept. 30, 2012.
A few areas in Oklahoma, Arkansas and western Tennessee welcomed 1.5 to 2.5 inches of rain this week from a swath of showers, providing a one category improvement for the areas receiving the most rain.
Further into the West, a Pacific storm brought decent precipitation, providing improvements to Montana and Idaho.
The East Coast is recovering from a Nor'easter that dropped a foot of snow on inland sections, and some snow was also recorded into the Appalachians. Abnormally dry conditions remain along much of the southern East Coast, and a strong long-term drought area is still affecting central Georgia and parts of Alabama.
For the week ahead, Miskus estimates that there will be relatively calm conditions and limited rain.