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There’s a slight decrease in Midwest dryness, Drought Monitor shows

Minnesota receives widespread precipitation.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows that dry weather with much above normal temperatures persisted throughout the central and southern Great Plains, this past week.

As of December 28, month-to-date temperatures have averaged more than 7°F. above normal across the south-central U.S., according to this week’s Drought Monitor report. 

Eastern North Dakota and the upper Mississippi Valley received another round of precipitation (0.25 to 0.75 inch, liquid equivalent) this past week. Following a period of widespread rainfall across much of the Ozarks region, lower Mississippi Valley, and Southeast during mid-December, dry weather returned to these areas from December 21 to 27. Little or no precipitation continued through late December across the Mid-Atlantic, according to the report authored by USDA’s Brad Rippey and Brad Pugh, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 


“Another week of widespread precipitation (more than 0.50 inch, liquid equivalent) along with positive SPI values dating back six months supported a slight decrease in abnormal dryness (D0), moderate drought (D1), and severe drought (D2) across parts of Minnesota. However, there are continued long-term precipitation deficits for parts of the upper Mississippi Valley including International Falls, Minnesota which has a 5-inch deficit for 2021 as of December 28. A small improvement was also made to parts of western Wisconsin that received around 0.75 inch of precipitation this past week. Based on 120-day SPI, moderate (D1) to severe (D2) drought was expanded slightly across southern Wisconsin. Increasing short-term deficits resulted in a slight expansion of abnormal dryness (D0) across parts of Missouri. A small area of severe drought (D2) was added to the west of St. Louis based on short-term SPIs and 28-day streamflows,” Rippey and Pugh stated.

High Plains

A continued expansion of abnormal dryness (D0), moderate drought (D1), and severe drought (D2) were required again this week across much of Kansas due to worsening soil moisture indicators, 90- to 120-day SPIs, declining streamflows, and impacts such as cattle sell-offs, according to the Drought Monitor report.

“A 1-category degradation was made to the southwest corner of Nebraska based on soil moisture and SPI values at various time scales. A recent increase in snowpack led to improving drought conditions across the central Rockies, to the west of the Continental Divide. Severe (D2) to extreme (drought) was expanded across northeast Colorado due to declining soil moisture indicators and EDDI. Precipitation (more than 0.5 inch, liquid equivalent) on December 26 along with positive SPI values dating back six months supported a slight decrease in abnormal dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1) across central and eastern North Dakota,” Rippey and Pugh say.

Looking Ahead

“A low pressure system and trailing front are expected to progress eastward from the central to eastern U.S. from January 1 to 2. A swath of snow may occur on the northwest side of the surface low track, from the Central Plains northeast to the Midwest and Great Lakes.

“Heavy rain (1 to 3 inches) is forecast to overspread the Tennessee Valley, southern Appalachians, and southern Mid-Atlantic,” according to the Drought Monitor Report.

“Little to no precipitation is expected for the southern Great Plains into the beginning of the New Year,” Rippey and Pugh stated. 

The Climate Prediction Center’s six- to 10-day outlook (valid January 4-8, 2022) favors above-normal temperatures across the southern Great Plains, Gulf Coast States, and along the East Coast. Below-normal temperatures are very likely for the northern Great Plains, according to the Drought Monitor report.

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