This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw a few notable improvements and some serious degradation. Temperatures have generally been below normal this week from the east side of the Rockies to the East Coast, with the exception of Texas, the Southeast Coast, and northern New England. This has helped ease drought impacts, particularly in those areas where beneficial precipitation fell.
One such area is in the Ohio Valley where parts of Indiana saw more than five inches of rain. This is the second straight week of beneficial precipitation for some of these areas and this precipitation has largely alleviated Exceptional Drought (D4) from the state, despite lingering impacts still being felt. Last week, drought gripped slightly less of the agricultural land in the country with 85% of the U.S. corn crop, 83% of soybeans, 63% of hay, and 71% of cattle areas experiencing drought. Nearly half of the corn (49%) and soybean (46%) areas are experiencing Extreme (D3) to Exceptional (D4) Drought. This has led to both reduced yields and earlier harvests. Additional impacts this week include closing of an 11-mile stretch of the Mississippi River near Greenville, MS to barge traffic because of low water levels and wildfires expanding from northern California to Idaho.
The Southeast: Continued beneficial precipitation in the Southeast this week helped to improve drought conditions, particularly in northern Alabama and the upstate of South Carolina. Drought continues to strongly grip Georgia, eastern Alabama and western Tennessee and to a lesser extent areas of North Carolina and northern Mississippi where conditions remain relatively unchanged.
The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic: Most of this area received enough precipitation that drought conditions held status quo with minor reductions in Abnormal Dryness (D0) in Maine and Rhode Island and a reduction in Severe Drought (D1) in Massachusetts.
The South and Southern Plains: In Oklahoma, drought intensified to Exceptional Drought (D4) status in the northeast part of the state, which continues to miss out on beneficial precipitation falling to the south, just over the Texas border. Drought conditions in parts of eastern and extreme western Texas improved with the recent rains, while a lack of rain in the central and panhandle parts of the state led to expansion of Exceptional (D4), Extreme (D3), Severe (D2), and Moderate (D1) Drought as well as Abnormal Dryness (D0). In Louisiana, Extreme (D3) and Severe (D2) Drought expanded in the north.