USDA’s Drought Monitor for the week ending March 30 reflected the expansion of drought from the Northern Plains to the Pacific Northwest and some spotty drought improvement in the Midwest. Texas saw a mix of improvement and degradation.
“Multiple low-pressure systems resulted in widespread precipitation (0.5 to 3 inches, or more) from the Mississippi Valley to the East Coast during late March,” today’s Drought Monitor Summary says. Mostly dry weather persisted farther to the south, including the Florida Peninsula and south Texas. “A cold front brought strong winds to the northern Plains on March 29 but little or no precipitation,” today’s update says.
The central and eastern Corn Belt welcomed widespread precipitation that eased abnormal dryness and moderate drought in Illinois and Indiana. Eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin also welcomed around 1.5 inches of rain, and 1 to 2 inches of rain fell in central Iowa. Severe to extreme drought has lingered for nine months in northwest Iowa.
The High Plains saw another week of dry conditions with strong winds, resulting in the expansion of extreme drought in the Dakotas. Colorado and Nebraska saw minor drought improvements over the past week.
The monitor reports, “Additional improvements from the previous two weeks continued across the Texas Panhandle, while mostly dry weather and increasing precipitation deficits along with worsening soil moisture conditions resulted in expansion of D1 (short-term moderate drought) across parts of southeast Texas. Soil moisture rapidly declines from east to west across Texas.”