According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the area covered by drought in Kansas and Oklahoma was little changed, at 82.7% and 94.4%, respectively. The area covered by drought in Texas shrank by six percentage points to 18.5%, with the Panhandle area still under drought. The monitor notes a series of fast-moving storms brought varied precip to most areas of the country, although little to no precip was seen across the country's mid-section, particularly the south-central Plains and lower Missouri Valley, where "above-normal temps and lingering dryness dating back to the Fall has generated impacts in Oklahoma that were worse than what the data indicated."
"Since early October, less than half of normal precipitation has fallen across eastern Colorado, western Kansas, northern Texas and much of Oklahoma, accumulating deficits of 2-4 inches. Although the past 90-days are typically a dry time of year, the lack of normal precipitation, above-normal temperatures and gusty winds have exacerbated conditions, with impacts worse than what the indices and data are depicting," states the monitor.
The monitor also notes that precip was minimal across much of the Midwest. "Dry weather during the past 60- and 90-days has led to shortages of 3-6 and 4-8 inches, respectively, in parts of Missouri and western Illinois, thus D1 was expanded in southwestern and southeastern Missouri, and developed in central and northeastern Missouri and western sections of Illinois. The rest of the Midwest stayed unchanged," states the monitor.
In its outlook through January 9, the monitor states that several Pacific storm systems laden with moisture are expected to batter California and the West, with up to 18 inches of precipitation forecast for the Sierra Nevada Mountains. "Coastal areas of Oregon and the northern two-thirds of California are expecting more than 4 inches of precipitation, while the Intermountain West, northern, central and southern Rockies, and Cascades may see 1-3 inches," it states. "Unfortunately, little or no precipitation is predicted in the middle third of the nation (including the Plains), while a storm may develop off the Atlantic Coast. Light totals (less than 1 inch) may occur along the eastern Gulf and south Atlantic Coasts, with lake-effect snows likely in the favored Great Lakes snow belts. Temperatures across much of the lower 48 States should be well-below normal except above-normal in the Southwest."