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Drought Update: Mid-South, Mid-Atlantic Get Pummeled

February 26, 2015

UPDATED By WeatherBug's Tim Barnes

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The amplified upper-level pattern from last week continued to plague the central and eastern U.S. with spells of frigid Arctic air. The extremely cold air helped spark up a few winter storms, which dumped a heaping amount of snow, ice, and rain across the Mid-South and the Mid-Atlantic. Later in the week, low pressure wrung itself out over the Southwest and the Rockies with another round of fresh moisture. Meanwhile, the Northwest continued to wither away from a week of warm, dry weather.

A few monstrous winter storms scooted across the South, from the Mississippi Valley to the Southeast, before moving along the Eastern Seaboard. These storms worked together to drop 1-to-3 inches of precipitation from northeastern Texas to the Carolinas. This fresh influx of moisture forced moderate and abnormal drought conditions to be pushed back farther north and westward from Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi, and also pulled the severe drought out of Tennessee completely. The precipitation was enough to stifle any further advances of the drought from northern Alabama to the Carolinas. However, the Gulf Coast was not as lucky as precipitation ran clear of the coast. The dry week prompted the expansion of moderate drought conditions from southern Louisiana the Florida Panhandle.

The Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic were buried under more snow this week, as the storm systems formed along the South and cruised up the coast. The fresh snow ranged from a couple-inches to well more than a foot across the north Atlantic Coast, which helped trim abnormal dryness from portions of southern West Virginia and western Virginia.

Another relatively dry week covered the Central U.S. The northern Plains remained dry, pushing 6-month rainfall deficits to exceed 4 inches. Although, deficits continue to climb across the northern Plains, the winter season is usually the driest season of the year for the region, making these deficits less significant. Texas saw severe and extreme drought conditions slightly improve over the northwest corner of the Texas Panhandle due to above-normal short-term precipitation levels. The dry week prompted areas of moderate drought to move further into central Kansas, while moderate, seere and extreme drought conditions expanded into south-central Texas and north-central Oklahoma.

The highly amplified pattern worked against the West`s drought crisis this week. Only Southern California and the Southwest saw any reprieve from the dryness. The slight bit of moisture helped pull back the exceptional drought slightly from Southern California, but overall the state remained within the clutches of a monumental drought. Mountain snowpack deficits continued to climb across the West, leading to worsening drought conditions. Abnormal and moderate drought conditions spread across the southern Cascades of Washington, southeastern Idaho, southwestern Montana, southwestern and northwestern Wyoming. Moderate, severe and sxtreme drought expanded further into Southwest Idaho, while severe drought expanded into northwest Utah, where a spot of extreme drought has also developed.

Looking ahead, the current weather pattern will begin to weaken, allowing for a moderation of temperatures across the U.S. into the middle of next week. Storms have started to develop across the Southern Tier from Southern California and the Southwest, which will spread into the Southeast over the weekend. A few minor weather makers could scoot across the Mid-South into the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, bringing the chance for light precipitation across these regions before the end of the week. Toward the middle of the next week, things will become more interesting, as another major storm looks to develop across the South, which could lead to snow and rain across the Ohio Valley, Mid-Atlantic and the Deep South, just before a cold, quiet pattern settles in across the U.S.

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Source: U.S. Drought Monitor

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