This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw improvements on the map across parts of the Southeast, Northeast, Northern Plains, the Rockies, and Desert Southwest. In the mountains of drought-stricken areas of Colorado and New Mexico, the cool-season is off to a positive start in portions of the central and southern Rockies where snow shower activity continued this week. In California, persistent dry conditions led to expansion of areas of drought in northern parts of the state where a dangerous and fast-moving wildfire broke out late last week in the Sierra Nevada foothills leading to destruction of the community of Paradise. The Camp Fire is now the most deadly and destructive fire in the state’s history and so far has resulted in the loss of 48 lives and destroyed 7,600 homes. In southern California, the Woolsey Fire broke out late last week and spread quickly across the Santa Monica Mountains because of dry vegetation and strong Santa Ana winds. The fire led to the evacuation of more than 100,000 residents in Los Angeles and Ventura counties and has been responsible for the destruction of >400 homes. In the Southeast, widespread rain shower activity helped alleviate areas of dryness in Alabama and Georgia while short-term precipitation deficits led to expansion of drought in portions of Florida.
On this week’s map, continued snow shower activity led to removal of the remaining areas of Moderate Drought (D1) in the Adirondacks of New York as well as in the Green Mountains of northern Vermont. Elsewhere in the region, light-to-moderate rainfall accumulations (1-to-4 inches) were observed in coastal areas of the region leading to removal of an area of Abnormally Dry (D0) in the Mid-Coast of Maine. According to the National Weather Service (NWS) National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center (NOHRSC), 45% of the Northeast region is currently covered by snow. Average temperatures for the week were below normal (ranging from 1-to-6 degrees) across most of the region.
On this week’s map, widespread shower activity improved conditions leading to removal of areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) in northern Alabama and eastern Georgia as well as removal of a small area of Moderate Drought (D1) in northeastern Georgia. Rainfall totals for the week ranged from 3-to-6 inches across Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. In Florida, below-normal soil moisture levels and precipitation deficits during the past 60 days led to expansion of areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) in southern and eastern portions of the state as well as the introduction of Moderate Drought (D1) in east-central Florida where 7-day average streamflows were well below normal. Average temperatures across northern portions of the region were 1-to-6 degrees below normal while southern portions, including southern Georgia and Florida, were 3-to-9 degrees above normal for the week.
On this week’s map, only minor improvements were made in the region including removal of remaining areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) in northeastern and southwestern Mississippi where heavy rains this week erased existing short-term precipitation deficits. In the Texas Panhandle, areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) and Moderate Drought (D1) were reduced in response to improving soil moisture levels from snow shower activity in and around Amarillo. During the past 120-days, precipitation across Texas has been well above normal. For the week, average temperatures were well below normal with the greatest negative anomalies (9-to-15 degrees) observed in the Texas Panhandle and northern Oklahoma.
During the past week, scattered snow shower activity continued across the Upper Peninsula and northern Michigan with the heaviest accumulations (4-to-12 inches) observed in areas adjacent to Lake Superior. According to NWS NORHSC, the Northern Great Lakes region is currently 78% covered by snow. In terms of drought, this week’s removal of a small area of Moderate Drought (D1) in western Missouri resulted in the region currently being drought-free on the map. For the week, average temperatures were well below normal across the region with the greatest negative anomalies (12-to-20 degrees below normal) observed in Iowa and Minnesota.
On this week’s map, improvements were made in North Dakota with the removal of two areas of Severe Drought (D2) in response to normal to above-normal precipitation during the past 30-to-60 days. In northeastern Kansas, areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) and Moderate Drought (D1) were reduced in response to improving soil moisture conditions and above-normal precipitation during the past 60-to-90 days. For the week, the region experienced below-normal temperatures with the largest negative anomalies (12-to-24 degrees below normal) observed in North Dakota, northeastern Nebraska, and northeastern Wyoming.