Drought conditions shrank and their severity eased in parts of the U.S. after rain the past week, according to data from the weekly Drought Monitor. About 27.1% of the continuous U.S. was in moderate to exceptional drought on June 19, down from 27.9% a week ago and 7% a year earlier.
Drought conditions inched up to 5.3% in the 9-state Midwest region from 4.8% a week earlier and 1.9% a year ago. Most of the increase in moderate or severe drought ratings occurred in Missouri and western Illinois with other states reporting a decline or no current drought conditions. Rains this week should further reduce those levels after the abnormally dry area shrunk from 10.2% this past week from 19.6% a week earlier.
Moderate to exceptional drought conditions in the South from Texas to Mississippi rose to 34.8% from 33.9% a week earlier, mostly as conditions worsen in Oklahoma and Arkansas while improving elsewhere in the region. In the High Plains region from Kansas to North Dakota, the area classified in some type of drought fell to 29.6% from 36% a week earlier. However, in Kansas, moderate to severe drought rose to 68.1% from 66.5% during the week as rains missed eastern areas and recent heat worsened conditions In Nebraska moderate drought expanded to 7.4% from 5.4%.
Over the next week, an active weather pattern continues to slowly move east out of the Plains and into the Midwest, bringing with it cooler temperatures and very heavy rain. Much of the eastern two-thirds of the country is expecting precipitation while the West and Southwest will remain dry.
The 10-day outlook shows that the chances for above-normal temperatures remain quite high over most of the U.S., Brian Fuchs at the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska said in today’s report. A wet pattern looks to continue as the central and northern Plains, Midwest, and South. Higher than normal chances of below-normal precipitation projected from the Pacific Northwest southeast into Texas during this time.
In separate report, the Climate Prediction Center sees above-normal temperatures across much of the continuous U.S. with a pocket from North Dakota to northern Illinois seeing equal chances of above, or below or normal temperatures. Recent hot temperatures and forecast models agree on the warmer trend next month and a continuation into the 90-day outlook into September, according to the monthly report. The precipitation outlook for July is less certain than the temperature outlook as today's forecast calls for equal chances of above, or below or normal precipitation for much of the central U.S.
The long-range July forecast signals that a high-pressure ridge will reform over the north-central U.S. and extend east into the eastern US. There remains a risk the ridge may stick around awhile in July. Much of the heat next week will be focused across the southern 1/3 of the US, but it will be pushed back northward during July. The timing and the length of the heat will be key after recent rains boosted soil moisture and corn pollination will be active from July 10 to 24.