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Drought Update: Central U.S. Sees More Relief

May 22, 2015

UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Tim Barnes

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Several weeks of consecutive heavy rainfall events have sent a potent message to the drought`s footprint on the Central U.S. - we will crush you! However the soil has been left in a swollen state, enhancing the risk of flooding across the Plains, Gulf Coast, and the Mid-South as the rain continued to pour in sheets. Meanwhile, upper-level flow in the West has kept the coast relatively dry, while rains from the Central U.S., typically rained themselves dry before making it to the Eastern Seaboard.

Another bountiful weather-filled week has brought blossoming clouds full of wet weather over the Central U.S. The Midwest and Great Lakes received plenty of rainfall over the week, where many locations saw anywhere from half an inch to 3 inches as storms scooted north and eastward. Locally higher amounts reaching 5 inches pelted portions of the Dakotas and Minnesota.

Further south, storms boiled up in waves as energy zipped off the Rockies. These waves became heavily infused by a never-ending supply of Gulf moisture, which led to extreme widespread rainfall totals for the week. The typical totals for the week were in the 2-to-3-inch range banding from the central and southern Plains to the Lower-Mississippi Valley. Heavier bands ramped totals up to the 5-to-10-inch range across portions of the Texas-Oklahoma Red River Valley, Southern Texas and northern Louisiana.

Another week of sweet relief brought another sweep of full categorical improvements to the drought status of the Great Plains and Upper Midwest. While, the drought will look to be eradicated if this pace keeps up; consecutive weeks of downpours has caused major flooding concerns across the southern Plains and the central Gulf Coast.

The East, while receiving a few waves of scattered thunderstorms over the Mid-Atlantic, as well as a trickle of moisture from the Central U.S. across the western portions of the Mid-South and Southeast, stayed mostly dry for the week. Moderate drought conditions have been re-introduced from eastern Pennsylvania to southern New England, as well as along the St. Lawrence Valley in northern New York. Meanwhile, patchy dryness in the Southeast has re-introduced abnormally dry conditions back in across eastern Mississippi and central North Carolina.

In the West, cool temperatures and scattered precipitation helped to stifle the drought from causing more widespread damage. Fresh moisture wrapping into the mountains from the Plains brought relief to those in the Mountain West. Severe drought was pushed back from northeastern Utah, northwestern and southwestern Colorado, and a small spot of extreme drought over central Utah was also removed. Abnormal dryness pulled back slightly from the High Plains of Montana, leaving only a small smudge across the Montana-North Dakota boarder. Moderate and abnormal drought also peeled back from west-central and southern New Mexico.

However, much of the rain kept within the Great Basin, leaving the West Coast with not much of anything. As a result, abnormal dryness expanded to encompass the rest of northwestern Washington, while severe drought was introduced across the Okanogan Highlands of northeastern Washington into the Idaho Panhandle.

Looking into the week ahead, the current pattern will look to hold strong for another week. Another system will launch off from the Rocky Mountain Front Range this weekend, spreading more heavy downpours across the Central U.S. and the Mountain West through the middle of next week. Hazardous flooding issues for the southern Plains and Gulf Coast will likely be a concern, as 7-day forecast rainfall totals bring another widespread 2-to-5 inches across the regions. The Northeast could look to get in on the wet action as well, with hopes of receive up to an inch. The West Coast, Southwest and the Carolinas will be in for a dry time for the week ahead.

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Source: U.S. Drought Monitor

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