The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center (CPC) forecast for March through May calls for above-normal temps from Nebraska southward and eastward, as well as the Four-Corners region, with the highest probability of warmth across New Mexico and Texas. The forecast signals Midwest soils will thaw quickly, but it also raises moisture requirements for HRW wheat, where the crop is already coming out of dormancy.
Below-normal precip is expected across western Texas, while chances are equal for normal, below- or above-normal precip from Nebraska southward. Meanwhile, above-normal precip is expected across the Pacific Northwest, Northern Plains and Upper Midwest, including the northern half of Iowa and the northern tier of counties in Illinois. Elsewhere across the Midwest, chances are equal for normal, below- or above-normal precip.
CPC Outlooks for March through May:
In its outlook for March, the CPC calls above-normal temps across the southern tier of states and southern Oklahoma, while below-normal temps are expected across Montana and North Dakota. Elsewhere across the Plains and Midwest, chances are equal for normal, below- or above-normal temps.
Meanwhile, below-normal precip is expected across the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle, which could stress the winter wheat crop. Above-normal precip is expected across the Northern Plains and northern Nebraska, while chances are equal for normal, below- or above-normal precip across Kansas and the Midwest.
Regarding the large area for "equal chances" for temps across the center of the country, the CPC says there is "considerable uncertainty in a number of the forecast tools." It also notes that La Nina was not considered in the March outlook, as neutral-ENSO conditions are now in place.
CPC Outlooks for March:
Below, we compare the Seasonal Drought Outlook to the current Drought Monitor:
According to the Seasonal Drought Outlook, drought will persist across western Kansas and should improve across Oklahoma. It also notes the largest improvement in drought over the last month has occurred across central and southern California. "The coverage of severe (D2) to exceptional (D4) drought over the continental U.S. is at its lowest since October 2010," it states.
"Removal or improvement of drought is also forecast across central and eastern Oklahoma along with parts of Arkansas and Missouri, which become increasingly wet during the outlook period. Prospects for broad-scale improvement diminish across the Central and Southern High Plains since their climatology becomes wetter later in the spring and summer," states the outlook. "Therefore, persistence is most likely for the long-term drought area over the Central and Southern High Plains."