Drought Monitor Reflects Improvement Across Midwest

By: Julianne Johnston

June  12,  2014

VIP Trial ButtonFor the contiguous 48 states, the U.S. Drought Monitor shows 54% drought-free, compared to 52% last week. Drought improvement was seen across the Midwest, South, West and High Plains regions, as an active weather system moved from the Central Grain Plains to the Northeast.

Related Link: 27-year climate cycle points to warmer and drier conditions this summer compared to year-ago.

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In the Midwest, the drought monitor shows a six-percentage-point improvement from last week, with 86% now drought-free; 4.41% in D1 (Moderate) compared to 6.16% last week. Widespread rains from Minnesota to Kansas prompted the removal or reduction of drought across much of the Midwest and Central Great Plains. "Across Iowa, some rains fell throughout the week, which helped alleviate drought conditions for much of the state," states the monitor. "The remaining drought conditions are tied to longer-term soil moisture deficits, linked to a dry second half of 2013. Page, Washington and Calhoun Counties reported 12-month precipitation totals at about the 7th, 10th and 5th percentile, respectively."

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Additionally, the monitor notes that moderate to heavy rains (0.6 – 5.1 inches) that fell across much of Nebraska resulted in drought reduction. "Deeper profiles into the soil are still showing dryness, so the reduction was tempered by the long-term conditions, although the Extreme Drought (D3) was removed from central Nebraska as those areas received enough rains to recharge soil moisture down to 2-3 feet, according to calculations by the Nebraska State Climatologist."

Abnormally dry conditions were removed from Illinois and Missouri as well. "Rains there were more widespread but slightly less intense (1.5 - 4.9 inches), resulting in recharges of soil moisture and increased runoff," adds the monitor.

Slight drought improvement was also reported across the High Plains. The monitor notes a one-category improvement for most of eastern Kansas due to the widespread rains, although western Kansas missed much of the needed precip. "Long-term subsoil moisture deficits continue to plague that state as well, so D3 (Extreme drought) conditions were retained across western and southern Kansas," it states.

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Favorable forecast
The near-term forecast is favorable for additional drought improvement across the Grain Plains, with heavy rains expected from Oklahoma to Minnesota. Widespread rains are also forecast over the Southeast and Florida. Little to no precipitation is forecast from Arizona and Utah to the West Coast, states the monitor.

The forecast for June 17 through 21 calls for above-normal rainfall from the Mississippi Valley to the East Coast, except Florida. "The odds also favor surplus rainfall over northwestern Alaska. Odds for below-median rains are increased across much of the west, west of the Continental Divide and across portions of southern Texas," it states.