Drought receded in the week that ended Oct. 8, with heavy precipitation falling as rain and snow in many of the areas that have been dry.
The proportion of the contiguous United States in moderate drought or worse decreased to 38.59 percent from 41.21 percent a week earlier. The areas in severe and extreme drought also declined, while a small crescent of exceptional drought accounting for 0.29 percent of the country remained unchanged in Nevada.
In Texas, moderate drought receded fractionally, but severe and extreme drought increased slightly. Most of that state has been in varying degrees of drought since late 2010, including widespread exceptional drought in 2011. Many lakes and reservoirs, including Lake Travis, near Austin, are showing the effects of long-term drought. As of Oct. 2, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reported that 1,210 community water systems out of 4,655 across the state had implemented voluntary or mandatory restrictions on water use.
Drought eased in the past week in parts of the northern states of North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, where at least 2 inches of rain fell. A few areas measured snow in feet, with a moisture equivalent of up to 7 inches of rain.
Rapid City, South Dakota, measured 23.1 inches of snow on Oct. 4-5, breaking the old two-day record of 20.4 inches set in April 2001, noted this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor author, Rich Tinker, in narrative accompanying the map. By Oct. 6, Rapid City had already set a new October monthly snowfall record (23.1 inches), which was 150 percent of the old record, observed in 1919. Snowfall amounts reached 58 inches near Beulah, South Dakota, and a wind gust of 71 miles per hour was recorded at Ellsworth Air Force Base.
Rains also brought improvement to the Lower Mississippi Valley, easing drought over Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi. In the West, drought improved in parts of Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Hawaii saw improvement on the islands of Kauai and Oahu but Lanai got worse.
U.S. Drought Monitor authors synthesize many drought indicators into a single map that identifies areas of the country that are abnormally dry (D0), in moderate drought (D1), in severe drought (D2), extreme drought (D3) and exceptional drought (D4). The map is released each Thursday based on data through the previous Tuesday morning.
The U.S. Drought Monitor map is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the USDA, and about 350 drought observers across the country. Tinker is with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
Statistics for the percent area in each category of drought are automatically added to the U.S. Drought Monitor website each week for the entire country and Puerto Rico, for the 48 contiguous states, for each climate region, and for individual states. U.S. Drought Monitor data online goes back to January 2000.
U.S. Drought Monitor map, statistics and narrative summary: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu
Drought Impact Reporter: http://droughtreporter.unl.edu
USDA’s weekly “Agriculture in Drought” analysis:
National Climatic Data Center’s State of the Climate Drought Summary: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/drought/
U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook:
U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook:
-- Kelly Helm Smith, National Drought Mitigation Center