Washington, DC  20018      4/27/2015
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Drought Update: Heavy Rain Helps Southern Dryness
April 23, 2015
UPDATED By WeatherBug Sr. Meteorologist, John Bateman
The heaviest rain of the week fell across the South, and especially the Gulf Coast, with several inches being added to the rainfall tallies. As usual the dry spots were the West, Southwest, and southern Plains.
In the Northeast, about an inch of rain fell across much of Massachusetts last week. This precipitation, along with rebounding reservoirs and a boost in stream flows (following snow melt), helped alleviate the abnormal dryness in some areas. In north-central Pennsylvania and south-central New York, abnormal dryness was eliminated due to sufficient in the past two weeks. Farther south several inches fell on top of already decent monthly rainfall across the mountains of southwestern Virginia which helped dryness there.
Several fronts draped across the Southeast contributed to heavy rain (generally 2 inches or greater) near the Gulf Coast, with 3-10 inch totals common from southeastern Texas to the extreme western Florida Panhandle. Because of this, areas of abnormal dryness and moderate drought were eliminated from eastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi, and improvements were seen in central and southern Alabama. Widespread moderate to heavy rain across Georgia and the Carolinas prompted the elimination of all remaining abnormal dryness across the Carolinas and much of Georgia. In Florida scattered heavy rain brought mixed results across the state, but kept parts of South Florida still dry.
In the Midwest, moderate rain helped the dry conditions in parts of Iowa. In northern Minnesota, variable temperature and precipitation conditions occurred throughout the week. Dry, warm and windy conditions prevailed early in the week, while cooler temperatures, reduced evaporation and precipitation amounts ranging from 0.3-1.0 inch occurred late in the week. Despite the rain, stream flows in northwestern and north-central Minnesota remain within the lowest quartile of the historical distribution. For now, no degradations were made to the drought depiction in Minnesota.
Across the Plains, North Dakota kept its status quo, while in South Dakota, only slight adjustments were made to the drought depiction. In the southern portion of the Nebraska Panhandle and nearby southeastern Wyoming, abnormal dryness was eliminated due to a recent storm system that produced about 2 inches of precipitation, much of which fell as wet snow. Much of central Nebraska, however, is still covered by abnormally dry conditions. In Kansas, respectable rains helped to offset any additional degradation. In Oklahoma, not enough rain fell to help the state see relief from the dryness. Across Texas, widespread minor improvements were made to the drought depiction after recent rain fell over many areas that needed it. Stream flows are improving in southern and south-central Texas, and there is continued reservoir improvement in the Dallas area. In the Panhandle region, some of the wheat crop is expected to be salvaged, but it is unlikely the crop will return to normal.
Moderate precipitation fell in much of the Upper Colorado River Basin this past week, though not enough to greatly improve snowpack or stream flows. This region will be monitored for possible improvements next week. In parts of northeastern Colorado, where 1-3 inches of rain have fallen so far this April, 1-category upgrades were made. In southern New Mexico, moderate drought was removed from some locations due to good moisture conditions. The Pecos River Valley is doing well on the eastern side of the state, with full reservoirs and commencement of irrigation. Conditions are not as promising though for the Rio Grande Valley.
In northeastern California, exceptional drought was expanded across the northern Sierras this week, while in some locations some improvements were seen. Despite this, for the past two weeks, extreme to exceptional drought covered two-thirds of California. In northern Nevada, slight degradations in drought status were found in locations, while in southwestern Montana, small improvements were made. In Washington state, record/near-record low snowpack helped the expansion of moderate drought across the northern Cascades, and the introduction of a moderate drought in northeastern Washington.

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Source: U.S. Drought Monitor
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