This Week's Drought Summary (12/4)

December 8, 2018

During the U.S. Drought Monitor week ending on December 4, 2018, a powerful storm system impacted much of the continental United States. The storm delivered heavy rain and mountain snow to the West, snow and wind to parts of the Plains and upper Midwest, and severe weather and tornadoes to the mid-Mississippi valley and Southeast coast. The precipitation with this storm brought improvements to drought areas in parts of the Sierra Nevada and Central Valley and helped to relieve long-term deficits in parts of the Intermountain West and Plains. With the exception of the Florida Peninsula, all remaining drought areas east of the Mississippi River have been eliminated. Degradations this week were limited to an expansion of abnormally dry conditions in Texas.


Precipitation in the Northeast was near to slightly above normal for this time of year, with amounts ranging from about 0.5 to 2.5 inches. The region remains drought free, with small pockets of abnormally dry conditions in northern New York, Vermont, and Maine. The only change to this week’s map was a small reduction in the abnormally dry depiction in northern Maine, where recent precipitation has been enough to replenish moisture deficits.


Much of the Southeast received an inch or more of precipitation last week. The heaviest rain, with totals of 5 to 10 inches, fell in a band stretching from the Florida Panhandle to the Georgia coast. This week’s rain improved short-term precipitation deficits, replenished soil moisture conditions, and alleviated moderate drought conditions in parts of Georgia, South Carolina, and northeast Florida.


Rainfall from this weekend’s storm affected parts of eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Louisiana, which allowed for a slight reduction in moderate drought in northeast Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas. Other than this moderate drought area, no other changes to drought were made, and the region remained drought free with the exception of the Texas Panhandle and northeast Oklahoma.


This week’s storm brought a mix of weather to the Midwest including rain, snow, and severe thunderstorms. The precipitation helped alleviate some of the lingering pockets abnormal dryness in Minnesota and Missouri.

High Plains

Moderate to heavy precipitation from this weekend’s storm, in the forms of rain and wind driven snow, fell roughly from the western reaches of the Dakotas to the northern half of Kansas. The precipitation allowed for the removal of moderate drought in east-central Kansas. While last week’s snowfall in the Dakotas was near normal for this time of year, long-term precipitation deficits have shown recovery, resulting in the removal of moderate drought in South Dakota and reductions in North Dakota. Moderate drought and abnormal dryness remain in those areas still experiencing low groundwater levels, soil moisture shortages, and long-term precipitation deficits.


Widespread rain and snow fell across the region over the past week. Heavy snowfall in the Sierra Nevada and precipitation in the Central Valley led to improvements in these areas. These changes were made in coordination with local experts and supported by improvements in a number of indicators, including precipitation indices, snow water equivalent, and soil moisture. The drought depiction in northern California was changed to “SL” as signals for drought are now