Showing a nearly 30% improvement in nationwide drought over Jan. 1, 2013, the first U.S. Drought Monitor for the new year also indicates that the West is not out of the woods yet.
Over the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor week, a sprawling area of high pressure across much of the contiguous 48 states appeared before two low-pressure systems took over.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Matthew Rosencrans, most of the wet weather brought on by the two low-pressure systems was confined to east of the Rockies, with the heaviest rains across the southeast.
Some light precipitation was recorded across portions of the Pacific Northwest, he noted.
Light to moderate rains amounting to fewer than 1.6 inches fell across southern Texas, prompting a 1-category improvement across most of the region.
A slight adjustment to the placement of the abnormally dry across southern Louisiana was included in this week's Drought Monitor to better align with Standardized Precipitation Index values out through 12 months and soil moisture model outputs, Rosencrans reports.
No changes were made to the depiction of drought across the Northern and Central plains and Midwest regions as most of the ground is frozen so little evaporation or recharge can take place. Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin continue to battle moderate drought and abnormally dry conditions, while more severe drought is still manifested in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.
In Colorado, portions of the southeast are now classified as in a severe drought, which Rosencrans reports is more consistent with impacts reported by local extension agents.
Dry conditions have persisted across California and Oregon, so moderate drought was expanded across much of western Oregon and severe drought was expanded across much of northern California.
According to the California Department of Water Resources, the state is already preparing for a dry year. The agency has formed a Drought Management Team, which the DWR says will "prepare for and reduce potential impacts of what is expected to be a third straight dry year in 2014."
The Drought Management Team will be working with agriculture professionals on drought mitigation opportunities and voluntary water transfers to move water from areas with relative abundance to locations with critical water needs.
Currently, 97% of the state is abnormally dry or in some form of drought. Nearly 30% of that area is extreme drought.
During the remainder of this week, moderate precipitation is forecast for the Gulf Coast and the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys. Rosencrans says snowfall is also likely across the Great Lakes and Northeast.
From Jan. 6-10, the odds favor above-median precipitation from the northern Rockies to the central and southern Great Plains, as well as the Great Lakes and Northeast.
Source: US Drought Monitor