An active weather pattern eased drought in the Plains and across the country, according to the April 9 U.S. Drought Monitor. Nebraska saw widespread improvement, but drought intensified in Arizona and New Mexico.
The total area of the High Plains region in the worst category of drought, exceptional, receded to 11.7 percent on the April 9 map, from 22.17 percent the week before. Nebraska saw a huge decline in the area in exceptional drought, down to 15.23 percent of the state this week, from 75.72 percent last week. But 94.02 percent of the state is still in extreme drought.
“This event was a good start to the northern and central Plains rainy season which normally occurs from April into August,” said David Miskus, this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor author, in narrative accompanying the map. The narrative included information from Al Dutcher, Nebraska state climatologist, who reported that in the recently replenished area, soils still lack deep moisture, but there is enough moisture near the surface for crops to be planted and start growing.
In Arizona, severe drought expanded to 41.15 percent of the state from 29.72 percent the week before. In New Mexico, the areas in severe and extreme drought expanded.
Other states registering improvements were South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Georgia, extreme south Florida, Utah, Nevada, California and Oregon.
Texas, where some areas have been in drought since 2011, saw some areas improve and others get worse. Montana also showed improvements in the east and expansion of drought in the southwest.
The total area of the country in moderate drought or worse declined to 42.83 percent from 43.74 percent the week before, and from a peak of 54.77 percent on Sept. 25, 2012. For the 48 contiguous states, the area in moderate drought decreased to 50.82 percent from 51.92 percent a week earlier, and from 65.45 percent on Sept. 25.
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 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 U.S. Department of Agriculture, and about 350 drought observers across the country. Miskus is with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.
The map is released each Thursday based on data through the previous Tuesday morning.
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
National Climatic Data Center’s State of the Climate Drought Summary:
Seasonal Drought Outlook:
-- Kelly Helm Smith, National Drought Mitigation Center