The latest National Drought Summary has been released.
Snow fell across most of the Northeast, but it was dry across most of the contiguous United States, with much of the country receiving less than 0.10 inch of precipitation and many areas receiving nothing at all. Part of the South, from eastern Texas to western Alabama, did receive more than an inch of rain, with locally heavier amounts, which helped improve dry conditions. Temperatures were generally below average across the eastern third of the U.S. and above average across most of the western two-thirds. Warmth was notable in eastern Montana and the Dakotas where temperatures were up to 20°F above normal. It was around 5-10°F above normal in the central U.S., an area that continued to see dry conditions this past week. In general, drought expanded across parts of the West, Southern Plains, Midwest, Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic and contracted across part of the South.
Dryness continued across the Midwest throughout this drought week. In Illinois, abnormally dry (D0) and moderate drought (D1) conditions expanded across the southern and central parts of the state, where soil moisture was slowly but steadily declining as the precipitation deficits increase, stream flows were continuing to decline, and there were reports that some stock ponds and rural wells were low. Over the past two months, there were widespread reports of 2-4 inch deficits west of US-51, with more than 4 inch deficits from Springfield stretching to the west and south. Abnormally dry conditions spread north and south in central Iowa and in the eastern portion of the state. Moderate drought extended farther in south central and eastern IA. Statewide average precipitation for December-to-date was only 0.09 inch, following the November average of 0.43 inch in November, which was the lowest statewide average for any calendar month since November 2007. The lack of rain also led to the expansion of D0 across the remainder of eastern Kansas into northern Missouri. Aside from a bit of sleet and drizzle, Kentucky was also dry again this week. Abnormally dry conditions also spread northward over the state, especially notable in the eastern half.
Over the next week, beginning Tuesday December 19, a good deal of much needed precipitation is forecast to fall across much of the South and the eastern United States. A swath from eastern Texas to North Carolina, most of Kentucky, and southern Virginia are expected to receive between two and six inches of precipitation. Heavy precipitation is also forecast for the Pacific Northwest, northern Idaho, western Montana, and parts of the Northeast. Dry conditions will likely continue across the Southwest and parts of the southern Plains, where drought conditions already prevailed. Warm temperatures in the South at the beginning of the week will be replaced by cold air sliding down from the north. Looking further ahead at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) 6-10 day Outlook (December 24-28), the probability of dry conditions are highest in the Northwest and Midwest, while wet conditions may occur over New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, and Texas, and stretching across the much of the South and along the East Coast. During this period, below-average temperatures are expected over nearly the entire contiguous U.S., except for parts of the Mid Atlantic along the coast and the Southeast, including Florida. Looking two weeks out (December 26 – January 1), the cold temperatures are expected to continue, except in Florida and the Southwest. The probability of above-average precipitation is highest over part of Montana and Texas, while below-average precipitation is most likely in the Northwest and much of the northern U.S. from the Northeast to the eastern Dakotas.