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With the midway point of December here, and dry, arctic air in place across most of the country, there has been an expansion in the drought. However, a bit of relief could be on the way next week.
Extreme drought continues in northeastern Montana and the northern Plains. Little rain and snow has been able to make it across the northern Rockies and add any significant moisture to the soil or streams. The central and western Dakotas also remain in drought with the most extreme dryness in west-central South Dakota. Freezing temperatures also limit any drought reduction as most of the precipitation falls as snow and doesn’t penetrate the soil. This week will feature a few chances of light snow, but will not lower the drought and could lead to an increase in the severity and coverage.
Dry weather and warm temperatures haven’t helped existing drought conditions or fires in the Desert Southwest. Moderate drought and abnormally dry conditions can be found in southern California and most of Arizona. A small sliver of severe drought can also be found in far southern Arizona. This week will continue to be dry as a bone with no relief expected.
A dry weather pattern continues in the South and Southeast, which is allowing abnormally dry conditions to worsen. There are abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions from North Carolina to Texas. Arkansas is the driest as nearly the entire state is in at least severe or extreme drought. This extreme drought has also expanded into northern Louisiana and southern Missouri. Thankfully, relief is on the way as an active weather pattern will move in this week and bring a decent amount of moisture with it.
Abnormally dry conditions and moderate drought is developing in the central and southern Rockies as well. These dry conditions will mostly be confined to Utah and far western Colorado. There will be a few chances for rain and snow in the northern and central Rockies during the third week of December, which could improve drought coverage.
The Pacific Northwest is without drought concerns currently. The pattern turns active through the weekend with several opportunities for rain and snow, which will keep drought conditions at bay next week.
The central and southern Plains remain mostly drought-free, but abnormally dry conditions and moderate drought patches are popping up from southern Kansas to central Texas. Severe drought can be found across southern and western Oklahoma. The next week looks mostly dry, therefore streams and lakes may drop slightly.
Most of the Midwest and Great Lakes are avoiding drought with plenty of cold fronts and low-pressure systems. Rain and snow has kept drought conditions confined to southern Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. A few more chances of rain and snow should keep the drought from expanding or worsening this week.
The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have seen a few waves of low pressure bringing needed rain and snow. This has prompted only small abnormally dry conditions from Virginia to Maine. These dry conditions can mostly be found in central Maryland and Virginia, as well as coastal Maine and central Vermont. The pattern will quiet down over the next week, which may lead to a slight increase in drought coverage.
The Tennessee and Ohio valleys are experiencing no drought whatsoever. More chances of rain this week will keep the soil wet.