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Drought Update: Spring Rain Washes Southern Plains, Mid-South
March 26, 2015
UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Timothy Barnes
The period ushered in fresh spring rain across the Southern Tier, bringing significant relief to portions of the Southern Plains and the Mississippi Valley. Meanwhile, dry weather was draped from California to the Northeast, aiding in maintaining and even worsening drought conditions across the U.S.
It was a cold, dry week across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. The combination of below-normal temperatures and dry conditions led to a slight expansion of abnormal dryness into eastern New York and western Vermont. However all was not bad news, as near-to-above normal precipitation levels reached across the southern Mid-Atlantic, allowing for further trimming of the abnormal drought in southwestern Virginia.
Further south, precipitation amounts took off, as widespread heavy rainfall from 1-to-3 inches spilled over portions of the Gulf Coast and Mid-South. As a result, moderate and abnormal drought relinquished its hold from southern and central portions of Louisiana and Mississippi, northern Arkansas, western Tennessee and the Florida Panhandle. Although moisture did cut a clear path through the South, portions of the Carolinas and southern Florida missed out on a great deal of the moisture. In addition to lacking moisture, unseasonably warm weather across the Southeast spurred the expansion of abnormal dryness into south-central North Carolina and the development of severe drought conditions across the Florida Everglades.
Conditions across the Northern Tier of the Central U.S. worsened as unseasonable warmth and relatively dry conditions prevailed over the week. Moderate and abnormal drought in turn expanded into the western Dakotas, while edging in across the Upper Great Lakes region.
The situation was vastly different further south across the Southern Plains. Rain divided the region in half, bringing less than 0.5 inches to the north, while the southern region saw rainfall ranging from 1-to-5 inches. The lack of rain, along with highs in the 70s and 80s, led to a slight expansion of moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional drought conditions across the Texas Panhandle. The heavier rainfall further south, on the other hand, helped trim back the drought`s impact from southern Oklahoma to central and southern Texas.
Substantial rain rolled into the West, spreading rain from the Pacific Northwest to the Rockies, while scattered showers confined relief to the Four Corners region and Southeastern California. As a result, moderate drought pulled back from the Southern Rockies, while a small reduction was made to the extreme drought in southeastern California. However, the ongoing unseasonably warm weather has left drought relief efforts in vain. The already-lacking snow packs across the Mountain West have been unable to replenish stores as waves of precipitation are forced to fall as rain. In addition, the warm temperatures have started the melting season much earlier than normal, which could spell trouble for spring runoff prospects. As a result of another week with little-to-no improvement, expansions to severe and extreme drought were reported over northern Utah, while the drought situation for the rest of the West continues to worsen.
Looking ahead into the next drought monitor period, spotty showers which sparked up severe storms across the Southern Plains and Mid-South will continue to bring welcomed moisture from Texas to the Eastern Seaboard into the weekend. Showers will cruise over the Mountain West, Midwest, and Northeast over the weekend into the new week. Next week, spotty wet weather will continue to develop across the South and the Midwest as storm systems train across the Canadian Prairie Provinces. Meanwhile, the Southwest and California will be left another week of warm, dry weather.
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Source: U.S. Drought Monitor
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