Bloomberg News

U.S. Drought Monitor Report for the Week Ending March 26 (Text)

March 28, 2013

Following is the text of the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor as released by the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska:

Weather Summary: During the past week, heavy precipitation (2
inches or greater) fell over much of the Southeast, portions of
the Pacific Northwest coastal ranges and Cascades, and the
California Sierras. Moderate precipitation (0.5-2.0 inches) was
widespread across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, the
Ohio Valley, the central Mississippi Valley, parts of the
central Great Plains, the northern Rockies, the Northwest and
northern California. Light precipitation (up to a half-inch) was
reported elsewhere in the contiguous U.S., and little if any
precipitation was observed across the Southwest. Storm activity
initially affected the East, followed by several storm systems
which moved across the West, the southern Great Plains, the
southeastern and Mid-Atlantic States, and ultimately parts of
the Northeast.  Several inches of snow accumulated in the
Washington, D.C. area on Monday, March 25th, which is unusually
late in the season for such an event.

The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic: About a half-inch of
precipitation fell over the drought areas in the Northeast,
which was enough to offset additional degradation for at least
another week.  Stream flows are close to normal for much of this
region, except for northern Pennsylvania and adjacent portions
of New York, where stream flow values are running between the
5th and 10th percentiles of the historical record. No changes
were rendered to the drought depiction across this area.

The Southeast: During the past 7-days, the Advanced Hydrologic
Prediction System (AHPS) reported moderate to heavy rains (0.5 -
4.5 inches) across Georgia, most of Alabama and South Carolina,
and northern and central Florida. This widespread soaking
resulted in a 1-category improvement in drought conditions
across Georgia, the eastern Panhandle of Florida, and portions
of South Carolina. Severe weather (mostly strong winds and large
hail) was also reported across the Florida Panhandle over the
weekend. In east-central Alabama, the lingering area of abnormal
dryness (D0) was removed from Chambers County.

In Georgia, all severe drought (D2) has been removed because of
the heavy rainfall. Severe drought has been ongoing across
portions of the state since September 21, 2010. As recently as
January 29, 2013, 82.4 percent of Georgia was in severe drought
or worse. Since that time, Georgia experienced its wettest
February statewide, and March has also been wet. The National
Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) Georgia Field Office
reported 4.2 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending
March 24th. Statewide Topsoil Moisture was rated as 1-percent
very short, 2-percent short, 58-percent adequate, and 39-percent
surplus. Subsoil Moisture was rated at 1-percent very short, 10-
percent short, 68-percent adequate, and 21-percent surplus. High
temperatures ranged from the low 50’s to the low 80’s, and
nighttime low temperatures ranged from the low 30’s to the low
60’s.

In eastern North Carolina, a cool and increasingly dry pattern
prompted expansion of D0 conditions, and the removal of D0 over
the extreme southeastern counties of Brunswick and New Hanover.

The Midwest: Moderate precipitation (0.4-1.0 inch) fell over
western and central Missouri and southeastern Iowa during the
past week, prompting a reduction in coverage of abnormal dryness
(D0). Temperatures continue to be below normal across the
region. Missouri is experiencing its coldest March in at least
17 years. For the most part, vegetation remains dormant and
evaporative rates have been kept to a minimum. Over the past few
weeks, there has been adequate soil moisture infiltration, as
opposed to areas farther north where frozen soils exist from
several inches to several feet in depth (for example, east-
central Iowa and southwestern Wisconsin).

Lower Mississippi Valley/Delta region: Significant precipitation
deficits (AHPS PNP values ranging from 50-90 percent of normal
rainfall during the past 3 months) have accumulated over
northwestern Louisiana. Stream flows in this region are below
normal. As a result, D0 conditions were expanded across this
area.

The Great Plains: In Texas, another relatively dry week resulted
in various small-scale adjustments to the drought depiction.
Six-month DNPs (Departure from Normal Precipitation) are on the
order of 8-16 inches in much of eastern Texas. In southeastern
portions of the Panhandle (Donley County), the Greenbelt Lake
reservoir dropped to 12 percent of capacity. In addition, only
about 6 inches of snow accumulated in this region from a recent
blizzard, which is not nearly enough to satisfy water supply
concerns. In the Oklahoma Panhandle (Cimarron County) the town
of Kenton has recorded 100 consecutive days without at least a
quarter-inch of precipitation. Cool temperatures have at least
helped to offset the impacts from current drought conditions. In
Kansas, moderate precipitation (0.5-2.0 inches) supported a 1-
category upgrade for northwestern, northeastern and east-central
portions of the state. In western and central South Dakota,
relatively minor adjustments (both improvement and degradation)
were made to the depiction.

The Rockies: In Montana, relatively minor adjustments were made
to the depiction, with a slight expansion of abnormal dryness
(D0) over southwestern and western portions of the state, which
is consistent with relatively light precipitation and slightly
below normal stream flows.

Minor improvements were rendered to the drought depiction in
eastern and south-central sections of Colorado. These were based
on above-average precipitation since March 1st, and also on some
improvement in winter wheat conditions. The Upper Colorado River
Basin (UCRB) will be monitored over the next few weeks, as this
is a critical time for snowpack. Warmer temperatures and low
snowfall accumulations could result in quickly deteriorating
drought conditions, while colder temperatures and higher snow
totals could help in minimizing impacts. No adjustments were
made to the drought depiction in this area this week, pending
further assessment of peak snowpack timing and melting
conditions.

The West: As of March 27th, the basin-wide Snow Water Content
(SWC) from SNOTEL locations across the West was generally 50-75
percent of average across southern Oregon, northern Nevada and
the Sierras, and parts of northern New Mexico, and 75-90 percent
of average across much of Colorado, Utah, and southwestern
Wyoming. SWC values were near average over much of the interior
Northwest and northern Rockies, and 110-125 percent of average
over the Washington Cascades.

In southwestern Oregon, abnormal dryness (D0) was expanded to
include Josephine, Jackson, and Curry Counties. Despite a wet
November and December, precipitation deficits of about 10 inches
have mounted over the past 90-days. Crater Lake snowpack is down
to 63 percent of normal, and stream flows are averaging below
normal. Medford, Oregon, is experiencing its driest (or close to
driest) calendar year-to-date so far. One concern in particular
is the increased risk of unusually early-in-the-season
wildfires.

Northern California has also experienced a significant lack of
precipitation this winter, after a wet start to the season.
Accordingly, areas not in abnormal dryness or drought in
northern California were downgraded to D0 conditions. Should
these deficits persist well into the spring, the growth of
forage will be hampered, and rangelands will be adversely
affected. Reservoirs appear to be in good shape, but spring
runoff is expected to be below normal. Temperatures have
averaged above-normal so far this month, leading to early
irrigation demands.

Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico: In Hawaii, 1-2 inches of rain
fell during this past week across parts of Oahu and Kauai.
Between a half-inch and an inch of rain was reported over
central Molokai and southern portions of the Big Island. No
changes were made to the Hawaiian depiction this week, pending
reassessment of conditions next week.  In Alaska, the only areas
to report a half-inch or greater of precipitation were near
Anchorage (from the Kenai Peninsula northward to the Mat-Su
Valley), and the Panhandle region. Most of these amounts ranged
from 0.5-2.0 inches. Comparable amounts of precipitation fell
over western and central Puerto Rico as well during this past
week. Accordingly, no modifications were rendered to the drought
depiction in either Alaska or Puerto Rico.

Looking Ahead:  During the next 5 days (March 28-April 1, 2013)
a broad band of precipitation (0.5-2.0 inches) is expected from
the interior Southeast westward across Arkansas and eastern
Oklahoma. Though most of this precipitation will fall on
drought-free areas, the western portions (Arkansas and eastern
Oklahoma) could certainly benefit from this rainfall. Elsewhere,
the predicted precipitation amounts (generally around a half-
inch) across the eastern half of the contiguous U.S. may be
enough to offset additional degradation. Little if any
precipitation is anticipated across a large portion of the High
Plains, the central and southern Rockies, the Southwest, and the
Florida peninsula.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Rose in Washington at srose31@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Marco Babic at mbabic@bloomberg.net


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