This Week's Drought Summary (6/20)

June 20, 2019

A stationary front was a focus for frequent showers and thunderstorms with locally heavy rainfall from eastern South Carolina south to the Big Bend of Florida from June 11 to 14. The heavier rainfall resulted in short-term rainfall surpluses and drought elimination to parts of the Coastal Plain of Georgia and South Carolina. Another cold front progressed slowly south and east across the Great Plains, Corn Belt, and Mississippi Valley from June 14 to 16 before becoming stationary. Locally heavy rain (more than 2 inches) and hundreds of severe weather reports were common across the central and southern Great Plains, middle to upper Mississippi Valley, and Ohio Valley during mid-June. Excessively wet conditions continue to slow the emergence of corn and soybeans across the Corn Belt. Meanwhile, drought intensified across northern North Dakota due to a lack of rainfall since April. A strong ridge of high pressure resulted in dry weather and record high temperatures (June 11 and 12) across the Pacific Northwest where drought is also intensifying. Suppressed rainfall continues to affect parts of Puerto Rico.


Scattered showers and thundershowers fell throughout much of the Northeast during early to mid-June with the heaviest 7-day totals (more than 2 inches) across the northern mid-Atlantic and western to central Pennsylvania. 30-day precipitation has averaged at or above normal for most of this region although a small pocket of below average precipitation is located in the lower Hudson River Valley and southern New England. 28-day streamflows remain normal to much above normal throughout the Northeast with this region completely free of abnormal dryness since mid-April.


Very heavy rainfall (5 to 11 inches) during the preceding week prompted a 2-category improvement from moderate drought (D1) to an absence of abnormal dryness from Charleston, SC southwest to Savannah, GA. Since June 1, rainfall amounts have totaled 16.72 inches near Bluffton, SC. This 2-cateory improvement coincides with where 30 to 90-day precipitation surpluses are now observed and there is no longer support for abnormal short-term dryness. Despite these improvements, it should be noted that hot temperatures earlier in the month damaged corn in the reproductive stage. Moderate drought (D1) persists across southeast North Carolina along with the Pee Dee region of northeast South Carolina where field corn was rolled up and pasture conditions were poor. Recent, heavier rainfall also led to improvements across parts of southern Georgia and northern Florida. A small area of severe drought (D2) remains centered over Ware County in southeast Georgia. The 28-day streamflow along the Satilla River near Waycross, Georgia is at the 9th percentile. Drought severity was degraded to severe (D2) in parts of southeast Alabama due to large precipitation deficits from 30 to 180 days along with low streamflows. The 28-day streamflow along the Choctawhatchee River in Dale County of southeast Alabama is below the 8th percentile. The D2 area is generally consistent with where 180-day precipitation deficits range from 8 to 12 inches. As of June 18, moderate drought (D1) remains centered over Leon County in northern Florida with a year-to-date precipitation deficit of 10.26 inches.


7-day rainfall anomalies (June 11 to 17) varied across the southern Great Plains, lower Mississippi Valley, and Tennessee Valley which is typical for this time of year. The heaviest rainfall (2 to 4 inches, locally more) was observed across scattered areas of Oklahoma, eastern Texas, and the Texas Gulf Coast. Less than an inch of rainfall was generally observed across most of Arkansas and adjacent areas of northwest Mississippi and western Tennessee. The Vegetation Drought Response Index (VegDRI) continues to reflect moist conditions throughout much of this region. Soil moisture remains above the 99th percentile across most of Oklahoma and northern Texas. According to the Oklahoma Mesonet, the northeast quarter of Oklahoma has received 12 to 18 inches of rainfall during the past 30 days. Abnormal dryness was expanded slightly across parts of the Tennessee Valley in areas where 60-day precipitation averages 50 to 75 percent of normal. However, much of this region remains drought-free since 28-day streamflows and soil moisture do not support a drought designation at this time. A slight expansion of abnormal dryness (D0) and moderate drought (D1) was necessary across Deep South Texas due to increasing short-term rainfall deficits and periods of above normal temperatures during the past month.


A majority of the Midwest remains excessively wet with precipitation averaging 150 to 200 percent of normal dating back 180 days. Due to the wet winter and spring, soil moisture remains above the 99th percentile across much of the Corn Belt. According to the USDA Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin (valid on June 16), 79 percent of the nation’s corn had emerged which is 18 percentage points behind last year and the average. Only 55 percent of the soybeans had emerged wh