A weather system moving across the Southern Plains and Midwest this week brought along hail and wind – at times tornadoes – though some areas of drought continue to intensify or expand, centered on Texas and Oklahoma.
Some portions of Texas this week received nearly seven inches of rain and larger areas received four inches, reports Drought Monitor author Michael Brewer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, though few improvements in the state were noted.
A pocket of land in the southwestern region of the state suffered a one-category degradation, while only the southernmost tip benefited from a one-category improvement.
Areas of abnormal dryness also were removed from eastern Texas, northern Louisiana into southern Arkansas, and northern Arkansas into southern Missouri.
Degradation appeared farther north into Oklahoma, with the only exception to the expansion being the extreme southeast part of the state.
Wheat crops in the region continue to suffer – just 29% of the entire U.S. wheat crop is rated good to excellent, says USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey.
Very poor to poor ratings are 78% in Oklahoma, 67% in Texas and 59% in Kansas. "With the crop now heading out, there's not much hope for any recovery as we move deeper into the season," Rippey says.
Areas of Moderate Drought and Abnormal Dryness continue to impact the Midwest. No changes were made to the area this week.
Conditions remain very dry across the West as much of the region moves into its dry season. Areas of extreme drought expanded in western and eastern New Mexico, as did exceptional drought in eastern New Mexico as precipitation deficits mount, Brewer says.
Wildfires remain a problem in parts of the West. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the current large incidents are all in California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
So far this year nationwide, Brewer reports, there have been 22,863 fires that have burned 471,875 acres, which is below the 10-year average.
Pastures and range, not surprisingly, are still rated poorly in the far West, according to Rippey. Farther north into Idaho and Wyoming, however, pastures are in much better shape with three-quarters in good to excellent condition.
Source: U.S. Drought Monitor