Plains Dry Out as Tropical Storm Cindy Soaks South06/30/2017
All substantial precipitation over the past week fell over the eastern half and southern portion of the United States. Tropical Storm Cindy played a large role.
The storm made landfall near the Louisiana-Texas border on June 22, bringing heavy rains and subsequent flooding to parts of the South and the Ohio Valley. Dry areas in the path of Cindy saw immediate improvements, as reflected on this week’s drought map.
Heat and lack of rain dominated from the West to the central and south central U.S, with temperatures rising into the 90s, 100s, and even into the 120s in some areas, with many temperature records broken. This led to some quickly deteriorating conditions across the heart of the country.
Although temperatures were well below normal in the Northern Plains from the 23rd through the 27th, this did not help conditions; unfortunately there was little to no accompanying rain.
Moisture from Tropical Storm Cindy brought widespread heavy rains to alleviate lingering drought and dryness in several locations. The rain was enough to wash away all D1 and substantially shrink the remaining abnormally dry region in northwestern Alabama into northeastern Mississippi.
Moderate drought conditions were alleviated in several counties, where precipitation has been up to around 250% of average over the past month. The area of abnormal dryness that remains is related to long-term deficits, which more bouts of normal to above-normal rainfall will help improve.
In Florida, the wet season, which is typically from June to November, began on time and with a lot of moisture. The entire state has seen 125% or more of its normal rainfall over the past 2 months. All residual dryness from the drier-than-normal dry season is no longer a concern, making the state completely drought free for the first time since early July 2016.
Georgia also saw substantial improvements over the past week. Although there are some areas of lingering dryness in northern, central, and southern Georgia, only a small pocket of D1 remains, in southern White County in the northeast.
There was a mixed bag of precipitation totals across this region over the past week, ranging from nothing or very little in most of Oklahoma and parts of south central and west Texas to around 4-6 inches in parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas thanks to Cindy. As expected, this led to improvements in some areas and rather widespread degradation in others.
The 3-6 inches of rain in northwestern Louisiana effectively wiped out the dry region from Bienville to Caddo Parishes.
Unfortunately, this past week’s rain was inadequate to ameliorate large deficits loom since the beginning of May in Oklahoma, with the prime rainy season (May through mid-June) disappointing for much of the state, especially central Oklahoma.
With rapidly deteriorating conditions, abnormal dryness (D0) was introduced across large portions, with already existing moderate drought (D1) expanding in the central part of the state, where drier conditions were present. Moderate drought was expanded to encompass more of Grady County, for example, reflecting reports of failed crops and inability to plan.
Dry creek beds have been noted by locals in the western half of Roger Mills County. On-the-ground observations indicate that stock ponds are rapidly shrinking and grass is turning yellow. Local fire weather experts report that much of central Oklahoma began transitioning from live to dead fire fuel weeks ago.
At least some rain fell across most of Texas over the past week, with 2 inches or more in parts of the southeast, central to north central, and north. Thus, the majority of the state remained status quo with respect to drought conditions.
The past week saw adequate rainfall across most of the region. Southern Ohio received enough precipitation to remove the abnormal dryness (D0) from the southern region, although it remains in the Toledo area to the north where deficits are as much as 3 inches over the past month.
In Iowa, abnormal dryness (D0) was extended to the south in western Shelby, eastern Harrison, and northwestern Pottawattamie Counties where rainfall over the past month has been less than 50% of average.
Much needed rainfall was unfortunately scarce over most of the region during the past week. Combined with a heat wave early in the period with temperatures reaching into the 100’s (°F) in some areas, conditions worsened in many places.
North Platte, Nebraska, for example, tied a June record on the 21st, reaching 107°F. Abnormally dry conditions now encompass most of the state, save for the far west and parts of the far east. These conditions also extended southward into Kansas, which also saw abnormal dryness extended in the far southwest.
The most deterioration, however, occurred in the Dakotas, especially northwestern South Dakota and North Dakota, where the rapidly worsening conditions warranted expansion of moderate, severe, and extreme drought to many regions.
Extreme drought (D3) was expanded across a large section of western North Dakota and extended into Montana (see West). A county agent from McIntosh County noted that soil moisture is absent and crop and pasture losses are expected. Additionally, some producers are now having to haul water, and hay is less than half of normal. Pastures have zero regrowth.
The one bright spot for the week in this region was southeastern Kidder and southwestern Sherman Counties: moderate drought (D1) improved to abnormally dry (D0) conditions.
According to the USDA/NASS reports, the percent of topsoil moisture that was short to very short for the week ending June 25 was 53% in North Dakota, 63% in South Dakota, and 56% in Nebraska, increases of 10, 8 and 20%, respectively, compared to the June 18 report.
Much of the southwest and west was dry and hot over the past week. But this is also the dry season in much of the area. States along the Pacific Coast are still seeing surpluses given the heavy rains and large snowpacks earlier this year. Thus no changes were made to most of the area, the exception being eastern Montana.
Here, according to local experts, even cooler-than-average temperatures over the last several days of this period did not appear to make a positive difference on the drought impacts being felt by dryland producers. Abnormally dry (D0), moderate drought (D1), and severe drought (D2) were all expanded to the south and to the west.
Conditions here and in the Dakotas (see High Plains) have deteriorated quickly over the past few weeks and this flash drought will continue to be monitored closely in the midst of the growing season.
According to the USDA/NASS report, for the week ending June 25, the percent of topsoil moisture rated short to very short was 69%, an increase of 20% compared with the previous week. This is the highest percentage among all states in the U.S.
The western areas of this region saw precipitations totals of 1 to 3 inches with less in the eastern areas, the exception being along the track of the remnants of Cindy. Dryness emerged in southern coastal Maine, where stations reported more than 2 inch deficits around Augusta, Portland, and Belfast since the beginning of June.
Abnormal dryness (D0) was introduced this week from northeastern Cumberland County to central Knox County and westward into southeastern Kennebec County.
The remnants of Cindy brought substantial rainfall to southeast Ohio (see Midwest) and northern West Virginia, enough to support the removal of all D0 in this area. No drought indicators show dryness at any of the shorter timescales here.
In southeast Pennsylvania the D0 footprint shrank southward, no longer a concern in Schuylkill Dauphin, Lebanon, Perry, most of Cumberland, and part of Lancaster Counties. However, some areas of the Northeast missed out on the soaking rains.
In northern Maryland abnormal dryness (D0) was extended south and a bit southeastward to include Howard, southern Baltimore, most of Anne Arundel and Prince Georges Counties, and much of Montgomery County. This also includes northwestern Calvert and northern Charles Counties.
Precipitation in southern Baltimore County, for example, was less than 25% of normal over the past month. Abnormal dryness also extended south through Washington D.C. into Arlington and part of Fairfax Counties in Virginia.
Generally, many mid-Atlantic pastures turned brown during the recent heat wave and remain brown in areas where Cindy didn’t provide much rain. The percentage of topsoil moisture rated very short to short in Maryland was 56% for the week ending June 25.
Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico
In Hawaii, stable conditions continue to keep things dry overall across the Islands. With less rainfall over the past 4 to 6 weeks, the Big Island is seeing the most impacts related to the dryness. Reports from the FSA indicate worsening conditions with ranchers having to destock pastures and haul water for their herds.
Even on the normally wetter east side of the Big Island, field reports indicate drying vegetation and lowering stream levels. Only the Kona slopes are seeing adequate rainfall so far this summer.
On the Big Island, Severe drought (D2) was expanded slightly toward the southeast based on rancher impact reports between Waimea and Kawaihae. Moderate drought (D1) was expanded into the Pohakuloa region between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, and to the upper eastern slopes of Mauna Kea.
D0 area was expanded east to cover the remainder of the island. Abnormal dryness (D0) was also expanded across Maui. With persistent dryness, D0 was introduced across Kahoolawe as well.
In Alaska, moderate drought (D1) was trimmed in in the upper Kuskokwim River basin, where the end of winter snowpack was close to normal. Additionally, abnormal dryness was removed from the region in the Northway to Eagle area near the Alaska-Yukon Territory, as precipitation has been near normal at most times scales, short and long term.
There is no dryness or drought in Puerto Rico.
June 27 and 28 saw a pattern of below-average temperatures in the East and above-average temperatures in the West. Welcome precipitation has fallen across large parts of the Northern Plains and Midwest, notably in central to eastern North Dakota, parts of southern south Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa. Rain has also fallen in the upper Northeast and in the far South from southern Texas to Florida.
During the next five days (June 29-July 4), temperatures will be warm, mainly in the upper 80s and higher, across the southern tier of the U.S. but also extending northward to Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas. Some areas that are needing a lot of precipitation to alleviate drought conditions may not see much.
Half an inch of rain or less is forecast over Montana and most of North and South Dakota. However, northern Minnesota may see over an inch. It also appears that eastern Nebraska, Iowa, northeastern Kansas, eastern Oklahoma may get some much needed rainfall, as much as 9 inches in localized areas of Oklahoma.
Looking further ahead into the second week period, above-average temperatures are favored across the entire contiguous U.S.
Potential above-average rainfall is possible in the eastern half of the U.S. from South Carolina to southern New York, extending west through Missouri, while below-normal precipitation is favored across the north from Washington to Minnesota and south to northern Colorado and much of Nebraska.
Below-average precipitation is also favored at this time for Texas, Louisiana, and southern Mississippi and Alabama.