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U.S. drought pattern spreads in the West, Southeast

Agriculture.com Staff 06/01/2007 @ 10:54am

High pressure through a deep layer of the atmosphere suppressed precipitation throughout the western states, maintaining a general status-quo as far as drought classification was concerned throughout the Southwest.

A storm system traversing the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies did bring some rain and mountain snowfall to the northern sections of the region over the Memorial Day weekend. Some modest improvement was noted in eastern areas of Wyoming, while conditions worsened slightly in the southwestern part of the state. The more active northern storm track also benefited areas of western Montana. Farther to the west, the severe drought area surged northward in eastern Oregon.

Precipitation spilling out of the Rockies and into the Dakotas resulted in some improvement in western North and South Dakota during this period, as some of the moderate drought area was reduced to abnormally dry. Showers and thunderstorms also produced an erosion of extreme drought classification across northern sections of Minnesota. Heavy rainfall during the past week throughout a sizeable area of the central and southern Plains, including Deep South Texas, eradicated the remaining abnormally dry in the Brownsville area.

An unseasonably strong ridge of high pressure continued another week of dry weather throughout this part of the country. Showers and thunderstorms, isolated at best, were ineffective at mitigating the perpetuation and expansion of drought this week. Specifically, Abnormally dry was expanded throughout a significant part of northern Arkansas, while farther to the east in North Carolina, an overall worsening of conditions was observed. In South Carolina, the remaining abnormally dry region deteriorated into moderate drought classification. Acute short-term dryness encouraged the introduction of abnormally dry in parts of northern Virginia, Maryland and the greater DC area. In South Florida, Lake Okeechobee equaled the lowest level ever by May 29th, tying the record 8.97 feet above sea level, previously recorded on May 24, 2001. Farther north, moderate drought was introduced along the Ohio River from east of Cincinnati to Huntington, WV.

During the next 5 days (May 31-June 4), badly needed rainfall is in the forecast for a large section of the Southeast and into the Mid-Atlantic region, courtesy of a slow-moving frontal system that will be impacting the area coupled with the influx of Gulf of Mexico moisture. The rain will be in the form of scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms. Additional rainfall is also possible from areas of the western Great Lakes into the Dakotas, potentially allowing for additional improvement in dryness in this part of the country. Dry weather with above-normal temperatures will continue in the West, with the possible wetter exception of the Pacific Northwest.

The 6-10 day outlook (June 5-9) suggests a higher probability of above-normal rainfall will exist in the eastern third of the nation, extending into the southern Plains. Meanwhile in the West, warmer-than-normal temperatures will combine with generally dry conditions to exacerbate ongoing drought in this part of the country.

High pressure through a deep layer of the atmosphere suppressed precipitation throughout the western states, maintaining a general status-quo as far as drought classification was concerned throughout the Southwest.

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