The area covered by D2 (severe) and D3 (extreme) increased across the Southern Plains last week. The National Drought Monitor reflects all of Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle covered by drought, with D3 covering most of the panhandle area. Meanwhile, very few changes were made to the drought landscape across Kansas, with 24.7% of the state covered by D1 (moderate), 26.8% covered by D2 and 9.5% covered by D3. The driest conditions in Kansas are in the southern portions.
Unfortunately, the extended outlook offers no relief for the Southern Plains. Above-normal temps and below-normal precip are forecast to continue through spring across the region, according to the 90-day outlook from the National Weather Service (NWS). Therefore, the Seasonal Drought Outlook through the end of May calls for drought to persist across the western half of the Southern Plains, which would further stress the hard red winter wheat crop in the region.
Meanwhile, the NWS forecast for March through May calls for above-normal precip across much of the Northern Plains, Minnesota and the eastern two-thirds of Iowa eastward through the eastern Corn Belt. Therefore, the Seasonal Drought Outlook says drought removal is likely for the heart of the Corn Belt.