This Week's Drought Summary (3/7)

March 7, 2019

Bitterly cold conditions settled over central portions of the nation, while stormy weather prevailed over parts of the eastern and western U.S. The Southeastern rain afforded localized relief from dryness, while a continuation of the west’s stormy weather pattern brought more drought relief to locales from the Pacific Coast into the Rockies. In contrast, short-term dryness intensified across the southcentral

U.S., in particular central Texas.

Northeast

Colder-than-normal weather with rain and snow were reported across the region. There are currently no areas of Abnormal Dryness (D0) or drought in the Northeast.

Southeast

Widespread moderate to heavy rain was reported, with cooler-than-normal conditions (1-4°F below normal) in northern portions of the region contrasting with above-normal temperatures (5-10°F above normal) in the south. Interior portions of the Southeast remained free of drought, with 90-day precipitation averaging 150 to locally more than 200 percent of normal. The Abnormal Dryness (D0) along the South Carolina Coast and environs remained untouched despite locally more than an inch of rain; 60-day precipitation in this D0 area remained at or below 50 percent of normal. The D0 along the eastern coast of Florida experienced highly variable conditions, with 2 to 10 inches of rain eradicating Abnormal Dryness between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The remainder of Florida’s D0 largely missed the rain, with significant precipitation departures (locally less than 50 percent of normal) noted over the past 180 days.

South

Cooler weather arrived, with heavy rain in eastern portions of the region in sharp contrast to increasingly dry conditions farther west. Rainfall in southern Louisiana’s Abnormal Dryness (D0) areas totaled 1 to 4 inches, easing or eliminating concerns over developing dryness; after discussions with local experts, the coastal D0 was removed. Pockets of dryness linger along the central Gulf Coast at varying time scales, and this region will need to be monitored closely over the upcoming weeks. Locally heavy showers (1-2 inches) in southern Texas also led to the reduction of D0 and Moderate Drought (D1). However, the story across the remainder of central and northern Texas was intensifying short-term dryness and drought. Over the past 60 days, large expanses of the state have received less than 50 percent of normal rainfall, with the expanded D1 areas reporting 10 percent of normal precipitation or less. However, there remains a sharply divergent signal at 90 days, with wet conditions (100-150 percent of normal) noted from San Antonio to Wichita Falls. This antecedent wetness has helped to forestall—for now—an even greater expansion of D0 and D1. However, if rain does not materialize soon across Texas, impacts of dryness and drought will rapidly develop as seasonably warmer weather arrives.

Midwest

The Midwest remained free of drought, with bitter cold (up to 20°F below normal) accompanying a deep snowpack in western and northern portions of the region.

High Plains

Most of the High Plains remained free of dryness and drought, with a moderate to deep snowpack coincident with temperatures averaging more than 20°F below normal. However, western portions of this region (notably, the mountains) continued to experience significant recovery from long-term Moderate (D1) to Severe (D2) Drought. During the 7-day monitoring period, precipitation totaled 1 to locally more than 3 inches (liquid equivalent) from the Park Range in northern Colorado to the San Juan Mountains in the south. Water-year precipitation has totaled 100 to 150 percent of normal, and mountain snow water equivalents (SWE) are in the 75th to the 100th percentile, indicative of favorable spring runoff prospects. The lingering drought remains most apparent in the longer term, with 24-month precipitation still averaging 50 to 75 percent of normal in the region’s D1 and D2 areas.