Storms passing through the contiguous U.S. this week dropped some precipitation on most states, Anthony Artusa of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports in this week's Drought Monitor, but many of the areas struggling most with drought missed out.
Higher elevations across the West received up to 3 inches of liquid equivalent, Artusa says, but lower elevations, such as the drought-laden coastal California received fewer than 0.5 inches.
Moderate to heavy precipitation, however, was observed across portions of the Midwest, Ohio Valley, Great Lakes, southern New England, mid-Atlantic and southern Atlantic Coast states, Gulf Coast region, Tennessee Valley, Lower Mississippi Valley, and the ArkLaTex region.
In general, temperatures during the past week were primarily below-normal east of the Continental Divide and above-normal west of the Divide, Artusa adds.
Abnormal dryness expanded across nearly all Louisiana, with the exception of the far southeast. An area of severe drought was introduced over the southwest part of the state.
In northwestern and north-central Missouri, significant reductions in public water supply have been noted. Many counties in the northwestern portion of the state were degraded from D0 to D1.
Though fewer than 2 inches of precipitation fell over parts of western, far southern, eastern, and northern Texas, many areas received little to no precipitation during the past week. The result was a mottled change map that showed slivers of improvement mainly in the northwestern portion of the state and scattered degradation in the central and south-central portion.
In far western Oklahoma, extreme drought was expanded northward. This was Oklahoma's the 8th driest January on record, Artusa said.
In Kansas, the state-wide average precipitation for January was only 34% of normal. Reassessment of conditions will be needed next week after this current storm system passes through the area, Artusa noted. In south-central Nebraska, a small drought-free area was downgraded to abnormal dryness in response to continuing dryness.
Most of Arizona and New Mexico received little if any precipitation during the past seven days.
The mountainous terrain of western and central Colorado received moderate to heavy precipitation during the past week, while the high plains of eastern Colorado generally received less than a half-inch of precipitation. As time is needed to evaluate regional impacts across the Southwest, Artusa said, no changes were made to the depiction this week.
Though several inches of precipitation fell over the northern one-half to two-thirds of California this week, significantly more precipitation will be needed to justify improvement with the depiction, Artusa said. The precipitation received this week only keeps the snowpack/water supply from falling further behind.
Reservoirs continue to go down. Last year at this time, 34.3 inches of precipitation fell, while the average to date is 26.4 inches.
The City of Cambria, on the coast in central California, is implementing water restrictions for residents, while many cattle owners are selling off their herds due to lack of feed and water, Artusa reported.
The higher elevations of western Washington and western Oregon received 2-5 inches of precipitation (liquid equivalent, locally heavier) during the past week. As is the case with California, Artusa said, significantly more precipitation will be needed to overcome longer-term deficits.
Finally, in western Montana, the valley areas have been fairly dry recently, while the mountainous areas have received significant precipitation. Given support from the latest short-term and long-term drought blends, and the recent dryness, the drought-free area in southwestern Montana was downgraded to abnormal dryness.
View the change map and other drought tools on the U.S. Drought Monitor website.
News source: U.S. Drought Monitor