Storms improve drought-related conditions in Texas, Kansas and Iowa

According to the May 8 U.S. Drought Monitor released May 10, the week saw scattered showers and thunderstorms across portions of the South, southern and central Plains, Midwest, and Northeast. This week’s storm activity led to targeted improvements in drought-related conditions in portions of Texas, Kansas, Iowa, and Florida while conditions deteriorated in parts of the Desert Southwest, northern Plains, and the Midwest. Across most of the continental U.S., average temperatures for the week were well above normal including some recording-breaking heat last week in parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast where temperatures soared into the 90s. In the southern and central Plains, concerns continue with regard to the condition of the winter wheat crop with the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board reporting 50 percent of the Kansas winter wheat crop in poor to very poor condition while Oklahoma and Texas are worse off at 68 percent and 60 percent, respectively. In the Southwest, a very dry winter and spring season are taking a toll on the vegetation with the USDA reporting 95 percent of Arizona pasture and rangeland in poor to very poor condition with New Mexico at 60 percent.

On this week’s High Plains map, locally heavy rains (3 to 5 inches) impacted isolated areas of northeastern Kansas leading to reduction in areas of Moderate Drought (D1). Meanwhile, short-term precipitation deficits during the past 30 to 60 days led to expansion of areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) in eastern North Dakota where local pastures are in need of rainfall and some cattle producers are running low on feed. According to the May 7 USDA NASS North Dakota Crop Progress and Condition Report, pasture and range conditions were reported as 5 percent very poor and 22 percent poor. In southeastern Nebraska and the eastern half of Kansas, dryness during the past 30 to 60 days has led to low streamflows especially in Kansas where many rivers and creeks are currently flowing well below normal levels. For the week, the region was warm and dry (with the exception of portions of northeastern Kansas, northeastern Colorado, and southeastern Wyoming) with temperatures well above normal and maximum daily temperatures exceeding 80 degrees F.