This Week's Drought Summary (5/21)

May 21, 2020


The southern Plains, Mississippi Valley, Pacific coast and south Florida were the recipients of the greatest rains this week, with some areas of Louisiana and south Florida recording 5+ inches of rain for the week. Dryness over the East and West was also coupled with warmer than normal temperatures over the West. Temperatures were 3-6 degrees above normal over the Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico regions while the northern Plains was 6-9 degrees below normal. Many dry areas of the Plains and Midwest have not had drought development due to the unseasonably cool temperatures in May.


Cooler than normal temperatures dominated the region, with most areas at least 2-4 degrees below normal for the week and the northernmost portions of the region 6-8 degrees below normal. Precipitation was mixed for the week, with the southern areas remaining dry while portions of the northern areas of the region recorded normal to slightly above normal precipitation. Ongoing dryness in portions of northeastern New York did allow for the introduction of D0 this week, which was based upon the short-term indicators.


For the region as a whole, the week was mostly dry. Spotty precipitation throughout the area did bring near-normal precipitation with it, but those who missed out were mainly dry for the week. Portions of southern Mississippi, southern Florida, and the panhandle of Florida did see 200+ percent of normal precipitation. Temperatures were cooler than normal over most of the area with most locations right at normal to 3-6 degrees below normal for the week. Due to the significant rains in south Florida, a full category improvement was made as the short-term dryness has been improved upon greatly over the last several weeks. The drought area of central Florida was split from that of southern Florida where lingering abnormally dry conditions were eliminated. With dryness over the last several weeks, abnormally dry conditions again returned to northern Florida into southern Georgia. In the panhandle region, abnormally dry conditions and moderate drought were expanded northward in response to short-term dryness. The dryness gradient remained in place over portions of southern Mississippi and southern Alabama with the severe drought areas pushing slightly northward this week. The areas of the region with sandier soils with lower capacity to hold moisture are in need of precipitation to stave off a widespread expansion of abnormally dry conditions. The cooler temperatures have lessened demand, but that can change rapidly in this region.


Cooler than normal conditions again dominated the region with temperatures 2-4 degrees below normal in the southern portions of the area and 4-6 degrees below normal in the north. A slow-moving storm system affected the eastern areas of the region, with many areas recording 2-3 inches of rain with locally greater amounts. There are several dry pockets in the region, and areas of Wisconsin, Minnesota and northeast Iowa all had abnormally dry conditions expand this week due to the dryness over the short-term. Abnormally dry conditions were also expanded over southeast Iowa and into northwest Missouri. The lack of above-normal temperatures has kept drought from developing, but conditions are being monitored.

High Plains

Temperatures over the region were generally 6-8 degrees below normal, with portions of Colorado and Wyoming the outliers with temperatures 2-4 degrees above normal. Most of the region was fairly dry for the week with many areas below normal for precipitation during one of the wettest months of the year. Portions of western South Dakota, western Nebraska, northeast Colorado, and southeast Kansas did record precipitation that was well above normal with 150-400 percent of normal for the week. With the dryness throughout much of the area, abnormally dry conditions were expanded and moderate drought was introduced to portions of western North Dakota and into South Dakota. Abnormally dry conditions were expanded through central and southeast Nebraska and portions of northeast Kansas. These areas will be ripe for drought development without rain, especially if temperatures become more seasonable. Northeast Colorado did see some improvement due to recent heavy rains as the severe and moderate drought as well as the abnormally dry conditions shifted south slightly. The abnormally dry pocket in southeast South Dakota was also removed this week after some locally heavy rain.


Temperatures over the region were near normal to slightly below normal where the most precipitation took place. Areas of west Texas were 3-6 degrees above normal for the week. It was an active week over much of the region for precipitation, which allowed for improvements over much of the area. Most of southern, central, and eastern Texas as well as southern Louisiana had a full category improvement as these areas recorded the greatest precipitation, which shifted the drought indices, allowing improvement to take place. Some areas of southern Louisiana had 10+ inches of radar-estima