This Week's Drought Summary (8/16)

August 16, 2018

The week was drier than normal across northern portions of New England, and wetter than normal in the southern parts of the Northeast. D0 was trimmed from western Suffolk County on Long Island where 90-day precipitation was above normal, but otherwise no changes were made to the drought depiction in the Northeast. D0-D1 continued in the northern portions. In Maine, dry conditions were affecting wells as groundwater levels continued their slow decline over the summer. According to August 12 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports, 31% of the pasture and rangeland in New Hampshire was in poor to very poor condition, and 43% of the topsoil and 45% of the subsoil was short or very short of moisture; 88% of the topsoil and 87% of the subsoil in Vermont was short or very short of moisture. As summarized by the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), water restrictions or water shortages were reported in communities in New York and Massachusetts.

Northeast

The week was drier than normal across northern portions of New England, and wetter than normal in the southern parts of the Northeast. D0 was trimmed from western Suffolk County on Long Island where 90-day precipitation was above normal, but otherwise no changes were made to the drought depiction in the Northeast. D0-D1 continued in the northern portions. In Maine, dry conditions were affecting wells as groundwater levels continued their slow decline over the summer. According to August 12 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports, 31% of the pasture and rangeland in New Hampshire was in poor to very poor condition, and 43% of the topsoil and 45% of the subsoil was short or very short of moisture; 88% of the topsoil and 87% of the subsoil in Vermont was short or very short of moisture. As summarized by the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), water restrictions or water shortages were reported in communities in New York and Massachusetts.

Southeast

Showers and thunderstorms, triggered by fronts or afternoon convection, left a patchwork of above-normal and below-normal precipitation across the Southeast. A few areas of abnormal dryness dotted the region. But the only change to the map in the Southeast was expansion of D0 areas in Alabama to reflect 1 to 2-month dryness.

South

Most of the South was wetter and cooler than normal this week. Heavy rain fell from central Texas to southeast Oklahoma and much of Arkansas. Reports of 4 inches or more of rainfall were common. The rains missed other portions of the region, especially coastal Texas, the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, the worst drought areas of southwest Oklahoma, and parts of Louisiana. D0-D3 contracted across much of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and northern Louisiana. But D0-D4 expanded in parts of Texas and Mississippi which missed the beneficial rains. The resulting pattern of D0-D4 in Texas reflected dryness at several time scales. Based on a crucial drought indicator, the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), it was dry at the 30-day time scale in the Trans-Pecos, northern panhandle, and Gulf coast; dry at 60 days in the Trans-Pecos and northern tier counties; dry at 90 days from the southern Rio Grande, across central Texas to the north central and northeast areas; the 120-day timescale is similar to 90 days except there was more severe dryness and includes the Trans-Pecos; 6 months has dryness mostly in west to central Texas, with a spot over the Gulf coast; 9 months is the 6 month pattern except lots drier; 12 months is like 6 and 9 months; 24 months has some spotty dryness mostly central to north central and northeast. When soils are parched from dryness of these timescales, a one-week rainfall of 4 inches is helpful, but not a drought-buster. As summarized by the NDMC, water restrictions or water shortages were reported in Waco and other Texas communities, specifically media reports that recent rain did not improve water supplies in Waco where 50 million gallons on average were used daily this summer. Voluntary water restrictions were taking effect in other central Texas cities like Robinson. By early August, drought impacts in many parts of Texas included pastures and rangeland in poor to very poor condition or declining condition, forage production has stopped, stock ponds receding or low water supplies for livestock, and, in central Texas, total loss of all dryland crops. The rains this week were helpful, but not for the crops that were already lost. According to August 12 USDA reports, 36% of the corn crop and 57% of the pasture and rangeland in Texas were in poor to very poor condition, and 71% of the topsoil and 76% of the subsoil was short or very short of moisture; 29% of the pasture and rangeland in Louisiana was in poor to very poor condition, and 43% of the topsoil was short or very short of moisture; 45% of the pasture and rangeland in Arkansas was in poor to very poor condition, and 50% of the topsoil was short or very short of moisture.

Midwest

Above-normal precipitation fell across parts of Ohio, Kentucky, southeast Michigan, and southern Illinois, and rain from the cutoff upper low over the southern Plains began to spread into southwestern Missouri righ