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Drought Monitor Reflects Few Improvements

Few significant improvements appear on Drought Monitor, but spotty showers bring short term relief

Published on: May 16, 2013

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, spotty rains and small precipitation tallies dominated the outlook this week, resulting in only small changes to many hard-hit drought areas.

Drought improvement has been relatively slow over the past three months; In February, drought covered nearly 66% of the contiguous U.S., only shrinking a few percentage points to nearly 62% this week.

Drought climbed just slightly from two weeks ago to last week, though it has retreated this week.

Most of Kansas, Oklahoma and some of Texas enjoyed spotty showers this week, ranging from 2-5 inches in some lucky areas. However, some areas in the same region saw only light showers.

Few significant improvements appear on Drought Monitor, but spotty showers bring short term relief
Few significant improvements appear on Drought Monitor, but spotty showers bring short term relief

This precipitation did ease some, albeit slightly, while D3 and D4 increased along the Red River. Also since mid-February, precipitation deficits of 4 to locally over 8 inches have accumulated in northeastern Texas, the adjacent Red River Valley in Oklahoma, northwestern Louisiana, and southwestern Arkansas, the Drought Monitor reports.

Precipitation amounting to a few tenths of an inch was reported across much of southeastern Wyoming, western Colorado, eastern Utah and southeastern Idaho as well.

 

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In Montana, 20-50% of normal precipitation has been measured over the past three months. Declining snowpack in the region has added insult to injury.

Drought Monitor Reflects Few Improvements

Here's a look at the U.S. Drought Monitor map for this week (top) as a comparison to last week (bottom).

Overall, precipitation was not enough to alter the Drought Monitor significantly this week. East of the Mississippi River remains out of the woods, and is beginning to dry out following heavy rains and flooding from late April and early May.

However, looking ahead to May 16-20, more heavy rain – from 1.5 to 3.5 inches – is expected over a broad area from the Northern Rockies, across the Plains and into the Upper Mississippi Valley. One to two inches is possible in Kansas, Oklahoma and Northeastern Texas. Light amounts are expected elsewhere.

And a word of warning: "We do expect to see the window of opportunity for fieldwork closing across the Midwest starting in the Southeast regions and event shifting to the north and west as the days go by," says Brad Rippey, USDA Meteorologist.

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