Below normal temperatures and minimal scattered rainfall made for a quiet weather and few changes this week to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
More than 71% of the contiguous U.S. remains in some form of drought, according to the monitor, with 21% in extreme to exceptional drought.
The most severe drought is still centered in the nation's midsection, across Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. In the five-state region of Colorado, Wyoming, The Dakotas, Nebraska and Kansas, nearly 27% of the land area is in exceptional drought, with 86% in severe to exceptional drought. This compares with just 6% of the land area in severe to exceptional drought just one year ago.
Farm Futures blogger Tanner Ehmke reports that a decent snow cover that arrived over the New Year provided help to a struggling winter wheat crop in Kansas, though the Drought Monitor reflects only slight improvements due to snow. Those are located in North Dakota.
Into the West, snowpack conditions show a deficit over the mountains in Colorado, New Mexico, northeastern Nevada, and parts of Oregon, Montana and Wyoming. In the Great Basin, drought receded to severe drought due to short-term precipitation.
In the South, scattered showers alleviated some drought conditions in Louisiana and Texas. In the Southeast, rainfall accumulation is adding up to benefit some areas in northwestern Georgia as well. However, an abnormally dry area is developing in south Florida, the Western Regional Climate Center's David Simeral reports.
The Midwest was also generally dry, and a lingering area of dryness joined together in Indiana and Ohio.
Looking ahead, Simeral expects a more active weather pattern with precipitation across eastern Texas and portions of the Lower Mississippi and Ohio Valleys, and most of the eastern U.S. in general. West of the Rockies, precipitation will be below normal.