According to the U.S. Drought Monitor for May 1 released May 3, this week saw a series of storm systems track across the continental U.S., bringing beneficial rains to portions of the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and South. Out West, the storm systems brought rain and mountain snow to higher elevations as well as cooler temperatures to the northern half of the region coming into the weekend after a period of record-setting warmth across parts of the West last week. Unfortunately, the storm systems steered north of drought-stricken areas of the Southwest that saw further deterioration in conditions on this week’s map. In the southern Plains, light shower activity provided some minor relief to dry pasture and rangelands as well as helped to reduce wildlife danger. In Texas, some isolated heavy rainfall activity brought relief to the western Panhandle and Trans-Pecos region. Moving eastward, cool temperatures and scattered shower activity helped improve drought-related conditions in parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.
On this week’s map for the High Plains, areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) and Moderate Drought (D1) expanded in North Dakota including the introduction of Severe Drought (D2) in the northern part of the state in response to reported poor soil moisture conditions and precipitation shortfalls during the past 60 days. According to the April 30th USDA NASS North Dakota Crop Progress and Condition Report, topsoil moisture was reported as 45% (short to very short moisture) with subsoil moisture at 50% (short to very short). Additionally, hay and roughage supplies were rated 55% (short to very short). In northeastern Montana, improvements were made in areas of Abnormally Dry (D0), Moderate Drought (D1), and Severe Drought (D2) in response to overall improvement in conditions (streamflows, soil moisture, lack of drought-related impacts) since last fall. Since the beginning of the Water Year (Oct. 1), precipitation across the region has been below normal with the exception of eastern Montana, northwestern Wyoming, and central/north-central Nebraska. During the past week, the region was generally dry and temperatures were generally above normal.