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U.S. Drought Monitor shows expanded drought conditions

Only minor changes made in the Midwest, according to the Drought Monitor report.

This week’s U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) report finds continued deterioration in drought-like conditions across areas of the Mid-Atlantic (Virginia, North Carolina) and the Southeast (South Carolina, Georgia) in response to below-normal precipitation (past 30- to 90-day period), declining soil moisture, and streamflow levels. 

Also, the drought conditions expanded and intensified on the map in areas of the South including Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas as well as in the Southern Plains of Oklahoma, where overall warm and dry conditions have prevailed during the past 30- to 120-day period, according to the Drought Monitor map. 


On this week’s map, only minor changes were made on the map in Missouri where precipitation has been below normal during the past 90-day period, according to the weekly Drought Monitor report. 

“Light precipitation accumulations were observed this week in the greater Ohio River Basin (1 to 2 inches) as well as in the northern portions of the Midwest where locally heavy snowfall amounts were observed. According to NOAA NOHRSC, 67% of the Northern Great Lakes region was covered by snow with an average depth of 3.8 inches and a maximum depth of 19.5 inches on December 8. Average temperatures for the week were mainly above normal with the largest anomalies observed in the southern and western portions of the region, where temperatures were 6°F. to 12°F. above normal,” the Drought Monitor stated.

High Plains

Warm temperatures, short-term precipitation weakness, declining soil moistures stretched across the eastern Plains of Colorado, according to this week’s map.

“Moreover, impact reports from eastern Colorado are yielding concerns by producers about winter wheat stands as well as declining pasture and range conditions,” the Drought Monitor report stated. 

According to the latest USDA Colorado Crop Progress report, the percentage of topsoil rated short to very short was 84%, while pasture and range conditions were rated 40% very poor to poor. 

For the week, most of the region was unseasonably warm and dry with average temperatures ranging from 2°F. to 12°F. above normal with the greatest departures observed in eastern portions of Colorado and Wyoming, Kansas, and Nebraska. In eastern Colorado, average maximum temperatures for the week ranged from 60°F. to 70°F., according to the Drought Monitor report.

Looking Ahead

In the 7-day forecast, the Central Plains and Upper Midwest are expected to receive less than 1.00 inch of liquid accumulation.

In terms of precipitation, there is a moderate-to-high probability of above-normal precipitation across most of the western U.S. as well as portions of the Midwest and eastern portions of the Southern Plains, according to this week’s Drought Monitor report. 

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