Weather disturbance felt in the West

The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. (Map courtesy of NDMC.)

Heavy precipitation fell across parts of the Pacific Northwest, associated with an atmospheric river.

While precipitation amounts were hefty, improvements to drought were primarily confined to lower elevation areas, given the higher snow levels with this system. Aside from parts of the Rockies in Colorado and southeast Idaho and northwest Wyoming, mainly drier weather occurred from the southwest United States through the Great Plains and Upper Midwest.

Widespread moderate to heavy rain fell with showers and thunderstorms from southeast Texas across much of the Southeast into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. Widespread improvements to drought conditions occurred with these heavier rains, though they were somewhat tempered by ongoing long-term precipitation deficits in some areas.

Northwest of the heavy rains, drought and dryness expanded in some spots in Arkansas and in parts of the Upper Great Lakes and Midwest, as short-term precipitation shortfalls grew amid lowering streamflows and soil moisture.

The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. (Map courtesy of NDMC.)


Rainfall was widespread across parts of Louisiana and the southern half of Mississippi and far southeast Texas, and scattered parts of Arkansas saw heavier rain amounts. Otherwise, the rest of the region was quite dry, including most of Texas and Oklahoma.

Short-term precipitation deficits worsened in parts of northeast Texas, northeast Oklahoma, and northern Arkansas, along with some reduction in soil moisture in some of these areas, leading to locally degrading conditions.

In central Texas and parts of the Edwards Plateau, long-term precipitation deficits continued amid dwindling groundwater and paltry streamflow, leading to some expansions in severe and extreme drought. Conditions were reassessed in and around Midland and in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, where some minor improvements to ongoing severe drought and moderate drought were made. Farther east in the region, more significant changes occurred. The northwest-to-southeast gradient in precipitation amounts across Mississippi, Louisiana and southeast Texas led to primarily an increase of drought in southern Arkansas, northern Mississippi and east-central Texas. Conditions across other parts of Louisiana and Mississippi and southeast Texas saw improvements as short-term precipitation deficits lessened. Long-term precipitation deficits and continued soil moisture and streamflow deficits limited these improvements.


Precipitation was mostly scant across the Midwest region with the exception of parts of Ohio and Kentucky, which led to some improvements in drought conditions in parts of north-central and eastern Kentucky. Warmer-than-normal weather covered the region most prevalent in Minnesota, where temperatures of at least 9 degrees Fahrenheit above normal were widespread.

The mostly drier-than-normal and warmer-than-normal weather led to some expansion of moderate, severe, and extreme drought in Missouri and Illinois. The short-term precipitation deficits mounted amid streamflow and soil moisture deficiencies. For similar reasons, moderate and severe drought also expanded in parts of Indiana.

High Plains

Warmer-than-normal weather continued across the High Plains region. Temperatures ranged from mostly 4 to 12 degrees above normal, with locally higher readings. Weather across the lower elevation parts of the High Plains this week was mostly dry, which led to a few local degradations.

In southeast Kansas, moderate drought expanded a bit, as streamflow and soil moisture dwindled and short-term precipitation shortages grew. Moderate drought expanded a small amount in western Kansas, where short-term precipitation shortfalls grew amid higher-than-normal atmospheric thirst.

Larger changes occurred primarily in higher elevation parts of the region in Colorado and Wyoming. Conditions improved near Pueblo, Colorado and in adjacent parts of the plains, where recent snowfall alleviated short-term precipitation deficits. Low snowpack in the San Juan Mountains, on top of a drier-than-normal monsoon, led to the development of severe drought around Ouray and surrounding counties.

Low snowpack in the Sangre de Cristo Range also led to the expansion of moderate drought outside of the San Luis Valley and into the high peaks east and north of Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Severe drought also developed in and near parts of the Snowy Range of southern Wyoming, where the start of winter has featured much below normal snowpack. Southwest of there, recent snowfall has helped to alleviate precipitation deficits in parts of south-central Wyoming and northwest Colorado, leading to localized improvements.

The northwest portion of the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming have seen much below normal snowpack to start the winter, and abnormal dryness has developed there.


A recent atmospheric river delivered widespread precipitation to the northwest United States, especially in high elevation areas, leading to local improvements to drought conditions. Precipitation in central New Mexico lessened precipitation deficits and increased streamflow and soil moisture enough to improve severe drought to moderate drought.

Warmer-than-normal weather was common across the region, especially in Montana, where temperatures ranging from 8 to 16 degrees warmer than normal were typical.

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Curtis Riganti is with the National Drought Mitigation Center.