Drought conditions continued to expand and intensify across the Hard Red Winter Wheat Belt in the latest week. According to the National Drought Monitor extreme (D3) drought was introduced in southern Kansas, with moderate (D1) drought expanding by around 11 percentage points to cover 35.2% of the state and severe (D2) drought expanding by seven percentage points to cover 15.7% of the state. In neighboring Oklahoma, D3 drought was also introduced to the panhandle area, with D1 expanding slightly and D2 contracting slightly. Still, the entire area of Oklahoma is covered by some form of drought.
The monitor notes that over the last 60 days, “extensive areas of the country have recorded below 25% of normal precipitation, from the Southwest into the Central Plains and Midwest as well as in the Southeast and into the Mid-Atlantic.”
Without timely precip, the condition of the winter wheat crop will continue to deteriorate through the winter. And, without much-needed snowcover, the crop be vulnerable to winterkill. A significant precip event this winter is unlikely due to the ongoing La Nina event, but a transition to neutral ENSO conditions this spring could usher in some timely precip.
Looking ahead, the monitor notes during the next five to seven days, widespread precip is expected over the contiguous U.S., with the exception of the Southwest. “The Pacific Northwest and northern Rocky Mountains are anticipated to have significant precipitation with liquid amounts of 3 to 4 inches along the coasts of northern California, Oregon and Washington as well as over much of northern Idaho and western Montana,” it notes. “Significant precipitation is also anticipated over the Ohio River Valley and into the Mid-Atlantic, where 1.50-2.50 inches of liquid precipitation is forecast over widespread areas.”
Additionally, it states that cooler-than-normal temps are anticipated over most areas east of the continental divide with departures of up to 15 degrees below normal while the western areas are anticipated to be warmer-than-normal with departures of 5-10 degrees above normal.