Washington, DC  20018      12/17/2014
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Drought Update: Downpours Across The West
December 11, 2014
UPDATED By WeatherBug's Tim Barnes
This past week brought widespread, heavy rain and snow across coastal and northern California, with western Washington and Oregon, the northern Rockies, and even the Mogollon Rim of south-central Arizona seeing decent rain and snowfall. Meanwhile, a secondary band of light to moderate rain and snow stretched from the central and southern Plains up into eastern New England.
The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic saw many improvements over the week. The recent influx of moisture since November has brought improved stream flows across southeastern New York, New England, and northern Virginia. Recent improvements have prompted the removal of moderate drought from Rhode Island and eastern and central Connecticut, while trimming abnormally dry areas from northern Connecticut and central and southern Massachusetts. Even with the vast relief, significant deficits for the past couple of months have caused expansion of drought conditions to seep into western New York.
Farther west, the Ohio and Tennessee valleys received from 0.5 to 3 inches of moisture over the week, which helped to offset the 2-to-4 inch deficit that has been accumulating across western Kentucky and Tennessee.
Across the Southeast, little rain was seen along the Gulf Coast, causing conditions to deteriorate across the Gulf Coast States. The expansion of abnormal-to-moderate drought was seen across southwestern Alabama into southern Mississippi, as well as southern and central Louisiana, while severe drought expanded from coastal Alabama into coastal Mississippi.
The Central U.S. saw little-to-no precipitation over the week, which has caused slight expansions of the drought in the southern Plain States. Minor degradations across the northeast, interior southeast and across the Panhandle of Texas were reported, while expansions of severe, extreme and exceptional drought were reported across northwest, western, the extreme southeast, and the southwest of Oklahoma.
In the West, moderate-to-heavy rain and snow fell across the West Coast and even made its way into the northern Rockies and the Southwest. Northern and western portions of Idaho saw 0.5 to 2 inches, as did western Montana and Wyoming. Moderate rain and snow fell across eastern Washington and Oregon, while Northern California and parts of the central and southern California coast saw rainfall totals climb up to 6 inches. The Southwest also saw a bit of rain totaling from 0.5 to 3 inches across central and south-central Arizona and northwestern New Mexico. Although these hefty rainfall totals seem like they would have made a dent in the drought, the three-year long deficits throughout the region have made recovery difficult.
Big changes could be possible for next week`s drought analysis, as California and the Pacific Northwest get hammered by very heavy rain. Totals are anticipated to reach from 4 to 9 inches by the end of this event across northern and central portions of California and Washington`s coast. This rich Pacific moisture will continue to move eastward over the weekend, spreading heavy snow and rain across the Rockies, Southwest, and the Great Plains. Early next week remnants of the Central U.S.`s downpours will take what little they have left up into the Northeast, while another plume of Pacific moisture pours into the West Coast bringing rain and snow from coastal Oregon down into central and southern California. The latter half of next week could bring more heavy rain to coastal Washington, while giving the southern Plains a chance for heavy downpours to develop.
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Source: U.S. Drought Monitor
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