Much of the U.S. midsection is still in severe drought, according the latest UNL Drought Monitor released Thursday.
The drought monitor shows severe to exceptional drought from the Dakotas into South Texas, but weather will soon shift for some areas to include a bit of rain next week.
"We expect to see not only some cold weather but more rain and snow in places like the High Plains and into the Southeast. So I think the overall trend the next couple of weeks we should see some more decreases in drought coverage in a lot of the key areas," USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey estimated.
But, the Southwest stretching from California to the Southern Plains will be warm and windy, he noted.
"Put it all together, balance it out and maybe we'll see some slight overall decreases in drought coverage the next couple of weeks. Even though we see increases in the Southwest, decreases in the Southeast and the Plains," Rippey said.
In Nebraska, most counties – 75% of the area of the state – are suffering from some form of drought. Across the rest of the High Plains, 22% of the area is in some form of drought.
Few changes were recorded in the area, but small-scale adjustments were recorded further south into Texas and Oklahoma. Anthony Artusa of NOAA projects that another dry week is on tap for Texas and cool weather will offset drought conditions in Oklahoma.
The latest USDA Crop Progress report shows that for the 18 key wheat-growing states, 30% of the crop is poor and very poor versus 12% at the same time last year.
States showing poor and very poor conditions include Colorado with 42%; Kansas with 29%; Nebraska at 49%; South Dakota at 76% in the categories; Texas at 49%; and Oklahoma at 33%.
In the Midwest, some improvement was recorded as a result of moderate precipitation. Vegetation is still dormant and the region welcomes adequate soil moisture infiltration.
The cooler weather is still around, however – Missouri is experiencing its coldest March in 17 years.
In Georgia, heavy rains relieved lingering drought that had been in place since 2010. The National Agriculture Statistics Service Georgia Field Office reported 4.2 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending March 24th. Statewide Topsoil Moisture was rated as 1% very short, 2% short, 58% adequate, and 39% surplus. Subsoil Moisture was rated at 1% very short, 10% short, 68% adequate, and 21% surplus.
Back on the West Coast and in western states, snowpack is the key concern. As of March 27th, the basin-wide Snow Water Content from SNOTEL locations across the West was generally 50-75% of average across southern Oregon, northern Nevada and the Sierras, and parts of northern New Mexico, and 75-90% of average across much of Colorado, Utah, and southwestern Wyoming.
Looking ahead, precipitation is expected from the interior Southeast westward across Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. The East should also see some precipitation.
Click here to visit the Drought Monitor page.