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Western U.S. Falls Deeper Into Drought

Eastern U.S. sees rain, snow; West Coast continues to grapple with effects of dryness

Published on: Jan 16, 2014

Drought again persisted and intensified across the West, though the East saw plenty of precipitation during the latest U.S. Drought Monitor period, Jan. 7-14.

Though the significant precipitation reached a portion of the Midwestern areas in moderate to severe drought, the moisture did little to reduce longer-term deficits, says this week's Drought Monitor author Eric Luebehusen of the USDA.

"In particular, precipitation over the past 180 days has totaled locally less than 50% of normal from east-central Missouri into central Illinois, where D1 and D2 persist," Luebehusen wrote.

Impacts of the dryness are generally minimal during the winter months, he said, though subsoil moisture reserves remain limited in the worst drought areas.

Eastern U.S. sees rain, snow; West Coast continues to grapple with effects of dryness
Eastern U.S. sees rain, snow; West Coast continues to grapple with effects of dryness

Similar precipitation deficiencies are also noted across Iowa and along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border.

In the Central Plains, drought designations run the gamut from abnormally dry to small pockets of extreme drought. Most of the area's drought conditions are classified as having a long-term impact.

Into Texas and Oklahoma, drought continues to persist despite the small bit of precipitation the east portions of both states received last week. Short- and long-term drought is prevalent from northern Texas into central Oklahoma, where 90-day precipitation has totaled 50% of normal or less. Topsoil and subsoil moisture remained extremely limited.

Related: Limited Water Supply Expected in the West

The drought continues to take a toll on Texas’ winter wheat, which was rated 38% very poor to poor as of January 12. In Southeastern Texas, the abnormally dry designation has expanded.

The western U.S. and California are perhaps creating the most concern in the several most recent drought monitor reports. Increasingly poor water-year precipitation and alarmingly meager mountain snowpacks continue, as a huge portion of California and Nevada are now under extreme drought conditions.

Water-year precipitation in most of the extreme drought area was now less than 20% of normal, with locales from the southern San Joaquin Valley to the Pacific Coast reporting less than 10% of normal.

Moderate Drought was also expanded across the Columbia River Valley in northern Oregon and central Washington due to increasing short-term dryness. In the Four Corners region, changes to this week’s drought depiction were minimal.

On the other side of the States, the East Coast remains relatively quiet, with small pockets of dryness in North Carolina, Florida, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. The eastern Great Lakes region all the way to Mississippi and Alabama are free from drought.

Western U.S. Falls Deeper Into Drought

Review the entire Drought Monitor report.