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Drought Update: Another Dry Week, With Drier Weather Ahead

January 20, 2015

UPDATED By WeatherBug's Tim Barnes

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Another dry week took hold of much of the U.S., for the second week in a row. Although much of the country stayed relatively dry, moisture did make its way across the Upper East Coast, the Northwest, and the Southern Plains.

Across the Northeast, rain reached the immediate coast of the Atlantic Seaboard late last week, with rainfall totals reaching up to 2 inches from Richmond, Va., to Berlin, N.H. In addition to this spurt of rain, earlier this week a clipper system slid across the Upper Midwest to the Upper Mid-Atlantic dishing out a swath of fresh snow of 1 to 2 inches, with a few places reporting up to 4 inches locally. Despite what may seem to have been a relatively wet week for the Northeast, conditions actually remained drier than normal. Abnormal dryness expanded further across central and northwestern Pennsylvania and across parts of the Maryland/Virginia Panhandles, as well as spreading into the southern Appalachians.

The dry conditions held strong through the week across the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, as well as the Southeast, causing further expansions to the drought. The recent two-week-long dry spell has brought 3-month rainfall deficits up, which are now ranging from 3 to up to 14 inches across these regions. Moderate drought expanded its grasp further across southwestern Tennessee, northeastern Arkansas, and into the Missouri Bootheel. The dry spell caused drought conditions to tighten their foothold over the central Gulf Coast, even prompting the expansion of abnormal dryness into central and southeastern Alabama.

Little relief move across the Central U.S. over the week. There was no progress made across the northern Plains and the Upper Midwest, as cold weather and little moisture kept the drought locked down. After several weeks of little-to-no relief, growing deficits across the central Plains finally caved, expanding abnormal dryness through eastern sections of Oklahoma and Kansas and even edging its way into western Missouri. Although the week started off dry for the southern Plains, it certainly didn't end that way. A storm system barreled its way across the South, spreading heavy snow and rain from the Southern Rockies to eastern Texas. Due to the late timing of this recent influx of moisture, relief depicted from this event will have to wait until next week`s analysis.

Significant precipitation made its way across the Northwest. Central and northern Idaho received up to 3 inches, which in tandem with the recent weeks of wet weather, prompted the widespread removal of abnormal dryness from central Idaho. The Pacific Northwest saw rainfall totals climb from 4-to-10 inches west of the Cascades, even sharing a good 2-to-5 inches with Northern California. Meanwhile, the bulk of California and the Southwest continued to see things dry out over the week. Deficits finally reached their breaking point across north-central Arizona, allowing the extreme drought to fill across the region. Although California saw no changes this week, conditions are expected to worsen, giving little meaning to the progress that was made over the previous month`s wet spell.

Looking ahead, the latter half of this week will continue to bring much-needed relief to the southern Plains, with the Gulf Coast and the Mid-Atlantic next in line as the Southwest storm system cruises up the East Coast this weekend. Unfortunately things will begin to take a turn for the worse next week, as high pressure filling in across the Mountain West looks to block the flow from the Pacific, keeping significant moisture makers over the Pacific Northwest and across the Northern tier from the Upper Midwest and the Northeast. The heaviest drought impact areas will sadly be left to dry out.

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Source: U.S. Drought Monitor

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