Washington, DC  20018      5/22/2015
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Storm Central
Drought Update: Plains Drought Milestone
May 15, 2015
UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Tim Barnes
The pattern over the past couple of weeks has led to massive improvements across the Plains. This pattern has not only highlighted the region as prime real-estate for storm development, but it has also left the Gulf open to remain as an easy access for available moisture. As a result, the week ushered in several strings of severe weather with record-setting torrential downpours and even rejuvenating snowfall across the north-central U.S.
The active weather across the Plains helped to bring significant, widespread improvements to the drought status across the region this week as storms strode through back-to-back.
Significant precipitation also fell over the Midwest, with rainfall totals peaking up to 4 inches across portions of Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, western Wisconsin and Minnesota. Further south, the wet trend amped up as widespread downpours brought in 6-to-8 inches across Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
In addition to the exceptional rainfall, moisture rolling into the High Plains and the Rockies combined with cooler temperatures to bring widespread snow. Western South Dakota saw snow totals reach 12 inches, with 16 inches recorded over the Black Hills, and a whopping 24 inches reaching further south over Nebraska's High Plains.
The result of the widespread relief brought full category improvements across the Plains, with the most notable being the removal of exceptional drought from the southern Plains, which has been around since July 2012.
Although great strides were made over the Plains, rains fell short across the East. The only significant sources of moisture kept to the Great Lakes and the Interior Northeast, while Tropical Storm Ana helped generate a brushing of rain further south along the southern Atlantic Coast.
The resulting week-long lack of rainfall tied together with a surge of summer-like heat drove abnormal dryness to expand across the remainder of New England and southeastern Pennsylvania, while dryness extended further across northern Maryland, northern New Jersey, southern Georgia, northeastern Florida, and southern and northeastern Alabama. Abnormally dry conditions were re-introduced into central Tennessee and northwest Alabama, as a second consecutive week of dry conditions covered the Tennessee Valley.
Further west, cooler temperatures and scattered precipitation helped to stifle the drought from taking further advantage of the already arid West. Abnormal-to-severe drought conditions was improved by the straggling bits of moisture in southeastern and west-central Colorado. Eastern Wyoming also saw abnormal dryness recede due to the fresh snow and rain. However, dry conditions across eastern Montana and western Wyoming allowed for the slight expansion of the abnormal dryness to occur.
Looking ahead, the current pattern will look to hold strong through next week. Before the end of the current week, a new Pacific storm will bring some much-needed rain to California. Remnants of moisture from this storm will be recycled as a storm system unfurls over the Central U.S. to bring another explosive, wet weekend to the Plains. Entering the new week, development of wet weather will continue to favor the Plains, lower Mississippi Valley, while scattered showers continue to wring out over the Great Basin.
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Source: U.S. Drought Monitor
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