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Houston, TX  77001      11/26/2014
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Drought Update: Extreme Cold Grips The U.S.
November 21, 2014
UPDATED By WeatherBug's Tim Barnes
Last week's wintery weather pattern brought along extremely cold temperatures, a dusting of snow, and a few spits of rain, but ultimately left much of the U.S. dry.
The East saw sparse showers pop up across the seaboard along with the bitter cold. Showers brushed across the Northeast, bringing 0.5 to 1 inch of rain locally from central Virginia up into New England. This rain helped to stifle any widespread expansion of the drought in the Northeast, with only slight expansions of dryness reported in central Pennsylvania and southern New York. Light-to-moderate snow dusted the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, creating a nice blanket of snow cover, but ultimately resulted in no significant relief to the drought. Locally heavy rainfall passed over the Southeast leading to reductions in the drought coverage and intensity across central Mississippi into central and northern Georgia. Rain seemed to avoid the coastal Carolinas as well as the central Gulf Coast States, resulting in an increase of the drought coverage over the eastern Carolinas and central and southwestern Arkansas.
Record breaking cold temperatures plundered the Central U.S. over the week. Temperatures averaged up to 25 degrees below the norm spanning from the Upper Midwest down into central Texas. Although dry, cold weather persisted throughout the week, no widespread changes were made to the drought intensity or coverage. A few showers did squeeze out more than 2 inches of rain across the Texas Gulf Coast, bringing about some reduction to the drought along the southeastern coast of Texas.
A steady plume of Pacific moisture reached out over the Northwest during the week, bringing from 1 to 4 inches or more of rainfall along the range of the Cascades. This much needed rainfall brought some relief to the extreme drought in southwestern Oregon. Although the coast saw some moisture fall, the Intermountain West received only a dusting of snow, which has led to the expansion of the drought over northern Idaho into northwestern Montana. Northern California saw light-to-moderate rain trickle in from the Pacific Northwest, but rainfall totals fell way short of the norm and did nothing to offset the ongoing 3-year drought that has been impacting the region. Santa Ana winds turned on over the week bringing in gust more than 40 mph to southern California, creating an environment that enhances drought and the risk for wildfires.
Looking ahead into next week, milder weather looks to envelope much of the nation, with moisture eyeing east of the Plains and the Northwest. Southerly flow will usher the return of warm, juicy Gulf air to the Deep South, setting the stage for locally heavy rain from the Mississippi Valley to the Eastern seaboard. The Pacific water-tap will be turned on next week, allowing Pacific moisture to stream into the Northwest, bringing heavy rain and mountain snow from the Coastal Northwest into Northern California and the northern and central Rockies.
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