Following is the text of the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor as released by the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska:
Weather Summary: Two weather systems moved across the country during the last 7 days, dropping abundant precipitation from the Lower Mississippi Valley to the Southeast and Northeast, with a third system developing at year’s end. Above-normal precipitation also fell across parts of the West, mostly in the Great Basin, from these systems The cumulative impact of precipitation during this week and previous weeks resulted in contraction of drought areas in the West, South, and East. But drought expanded in those areas which missed out on the beneficial precipitation. The Northeast to Mid-Atlantic: Another week of widespread 1 to 2-inch precipitation across the Northeast further contracted D0 over New York. The remaining D0 reflected lingering precipitation deficits at the 2 to 12 month time scales. The D1 in central Virginia expanded to West Virginia in an area which received below-normal precipitation this week and which had notable deficits at longer time scales. Southeast to South: A large area of 2+-inch rains fell from eastern Texas to the western Carolinas, with several reports from Texas to Alabama exceeding 4 inches. Widespread improvement in the drought depiction was made, with D0-D2 being pulled back across parts of eastern Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas. The area of D4 from east central Alabama to west central Georgia was eliminated and D2-D4 pulled back in the vicinity of Athens, Georgia. D0 was shaved in Mississippi and Tennessee. It should be noted that, while the beneficial rains have improved short-term moisture conditions, the precipitation was mostly being soaked into the ground to improve soil moisture. Streamflow levels improved in some areas, but many lakes responded slowly if at all, and long- term moisture deficits remained, especially in Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas. An area of L impacts was added where the heaviest rains fell and short-term dryness was eliminated. Meanwhile, dry weather continued across much of western, central, and Deep South Texas, where areas of D0-D4 expanded. The Plains and Midwest: Additional snow fell across parts of the central Plains - enough to arrest further deterioration but insufficient to improve the drought depiction. Precipitation in Oklahoma had little impact on reservoir and lake levels, and agricultural reports indicated that soil moisture remained depleted and the condition of small grains and canola across the state continued to deteriorate. On the other hand, even though precipitation was generally below normal across the western Great Lakes this week, above-normal precipitation in recent weeks prompted the contraction of D2 from Lake County, Illinois and Kenosha, Racine, and Walworth counties in Wisconsin where long-term deficits have shrunk considerably. The West: Pacific systems dropped half an inch of precipitation across much of the West Coast and parts of the Great Basin, with up to 2 inches of precipitation falling across parts of the Far West. Most of the coastal precipitation fell outside of current drought areas. However, storm systems of the last few weeks have contributed to a normal or above-normal snowpack from the Sierra Nevada to Washington State and across parts of the Great Basin to Northern Rockies. As a result, D0-D2 was trimmed in northeast California and adjacent Nevada, D3 was shaved in northwest Nevada, D2-D3 was pulled back in northeast to central Utah, and the area of SL impacts in the Great Basin was contracted to cover the region from northeast Nevada to southeast Oregon. On the other hand, the Southwest has continued to miss out on most of the beneficial precipitation. D3 expanded in northwest and east central New Mexico and D2 expanded in Catron County in west central New Mexico where long- term deficits continued or worsened. Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico: Precipitation has been below normal over southeast Puerto Rico for several months and streamflows are dropping, so a spot of D0 was added. In Alaska, drier-than-normal weather continued over much of the state, with snow water content 21% of normal in the Koyukuk Basin, where a spot of D1S was added. No change was made to Hawaii this week. Looking Ahead: The active weather pattern of the last few weeks will settle down during the next five days (January 3-7). Half an inch to an inch of precipitation is projected to fall across parts of southwest Texas, the Gulf of Mexico states, the coastal Southeast, the eastern Great Lakes, and far northwest Washington State. Otherwise, it should be mostly dry across the country. Temperatures should moderate in the Northern Plains and East but cool off in the West. The CPC 6-10 day and 8-14 day forecasts (for January 8-16) show the highest likelihood of above-normal precipitation for much of the country east of the Rockies and below-normal precipitation from California to the Southern Rockies. Temperatures are expected to average below normal for the West and above normal for the East. Western and southern coastal Alaska should be wetter and warmer than normal.
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