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Dry conditions prevail in the U.S., Drought Monitor shows

This week’s moisture will not be recorded until next week’s map is released.

Before this week’s widespread ice and snow-mixed storm, dry conditions prevailed in the contiguous U.S., according to this week’s Drought Monitor Map. 

“Heavy snow fell in a localized band across parts of western Kansas and eastern Colorado, totaling 27 inches at Mt. Sunflower, Kansas. Snow also fell in the Denver area. These snow events allowed for improvement to ongoing severe and extreme drought. Finally, it should be noted that the large-scale winter storm affecting the central and southern Great Plains, Midwest, and parts of the eastern U.S. from the afternoon of February 1 through February 4 will not be accounted for until next week’s map,” the Drought Monitor forecasters stated in a weekly report Thursday.


For the Midwest, this week was mostly dry. Southwest Missouri, already facing short-term moderate drought conditions, expanded those conditions with precipitation deficits. The Drought Monitor shows that moderate drought expanded across southern Wisconsin, where soil moisture and precipitation deficits grew. Precipitation was sufficient to improve the Northwest Angle in Minnesota from severe to moderate drought.

Drought monitor

High Plains

“This week, a narrow band of heavy snow fell in eastern Colorado and western Kansas, leading to small improvements in severe and extreme drought in these areas. Extreme drought also improved in the Denver area due to snowfall this week. Due to improved precipitation deficits, improved snowpack, and improved soil moisture conditions, moderate and severe drought were improved in southeast and west-central Wyoming. Increasing short-term precipitation deficits, along with unusually warm and windy weather, led to an expansion of severe drought in northwest South Dakota,” the Drought Monitor stated.

Lee Lubbers of Gregory, South Dakota, farms over 17,000 acres of drylands soybeans, corn, and wheat. Lubbers is concerned about the dry condition that his wheat crop is in this month.

“We’re on a winter weather roller coaster. It seems like every few days we go through a big swing in temperatures. We are 50°F. above, then the next morning we will be 0°F. with the wind blowing. The big swings are not what we like to see on our winter wheat. I think it’ll be fine, but it is extra stress on the crop,” Lubbers says. "We are also very brown right now with no snow on the ground. It’s been a very dry winter so far. Droughts don’t usually break over the winter in our region, but it will need to change in the spring as we’re really in need of some soil moisture,” Lubbers stated in an article first reported on

While southwest North Dakota is seeing a buildup of short-term precipitation deficits, northwest North Dakota farmers are enjoying increased snowpack, allowing for a reduction in moderate, severe, and extreme drought.

“Conditions continued to dry in the short-term in central and eastern Nebraska, where moderate drought increased in coverage and abnormal dryness grew slightly near and north of Lincoln,” Drought Monitor officials stated.

Looking Ahead

A large-scale winter storm carrying snow and ice across much of the southern Great Plains and lower Midwest should help improve conditions. The Drought Monitor reports that, “Precipitation, both wintry and plain rain, was forecast by the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center to continue eastward and northeastward through the middle of the weekend, with some heavier precipitation amounts possible, particularly from Alabama northeast to southern Ohio. On Sunday and Monday (February 6-7), mostly dry weather was in the forecast across the contiguous U.S., though some precipitation was expected along the southeastern coast.”

For the period from February 8-12, the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center forecast strongly favored drier-than-normal weather across the central and southern Great Plains east to the Atlantic Coast.

“Wetter-than-normal weather was favored in south Texas, the northern Great Plains, and northwest Great Lakes. Above-normal precipitation was also favored for this period in most of Alaska. Warmer-than-normal temperatures were strongly favored along the Pacific Coast, and in the central and northern Great Plains and Upper Midwest. From New Mexico eastward, colder-than-normal temperatures were favored across the far southern United States. Colder-than-normal temperatures were favored in western Alaska, while southeastern Alaska was more likely to see above-normal temperatures,” the Drought Monitor officials stated.

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