The National Drought Mitigation Center released their weekly drought monitor update this morning. These weekly updates are focused on broad-scale conditions and local conditions may vary. Data for the drought monitor updates are updated weekly with the cut-off being Tuesday morning at 6 AM CST. They compile the data on Tuesday and Wednesday with the official outlook released every Thursday morning. Precipitation and conditions after the data cutoff at 6 AM Tuesday are not included in this update.
Localized rainfall amounts last week of one to two inches did help remove a small sliver of abnormally dry conditions. However, any localized improvement has been overshadowed by continued below-average precipitation across Texas over the last two to three months. Just under half of the state of Texas is now designated as abnormally dry. The official designator for drought conditions – D1 moderate drought – has increased to 15% of the state. We now have official drought conditions across parts of the Edwards Plateau, the Hill Country, and an increasing portion of Texoma. We also note that abnormally dry conditions are present in the Coastal Plains and South Texas. While severe impacts from the ‘hurricane’ aspect of Harvey were felt in the CP, the prolific ‘rain’ Harvey was farther northeast.
The worst off in terms of rain deficits continue to be our northeastern zones where D2 severe drought conditions are expanding. Localized rainfall deficits in far Northeast Texas and adjacent Southeast Oklahoma are approaching ten inches over the last three to four months.
For those who prefer a detailed text summary we’ve included the full summary from Richard Tinker.
A band of 1 to 2 inch rainfall amounts extended from north-central Texas to southeasternmost Arkansas, but most of the region was dry, receiving a few tenths of an inch, if any. No measurable precipitation has fallen during the last 30 to 45 days in southwestern Kansas, western Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and interior southern Texas while 90-day deficits are generally between 4 and 8 inches from central Mississippi westward to northeastern Texas and northward through eastern Oklahoma, much of Arkansas, and the southern half of Missouri. The month or more without measurable precipitation was stressing winter wheat in and near western Oklahoma, prompting northwestward D0 expansion into the area. Farther east, the longer-term deficits prompted broad deterioration (D0 to D2) from central Missouri southward through central sections of Louisiana and Mississippi. D2 was expanded into the St. Louis, MO area, where low streamflows and longer-term precipitation deficits (4 to 6 months) exist. D2 was also expanded to cover areas from southern Missouri southward into northeast Texas and northwestern Louisiana, where 3-month deficits are the largest. A small area in west-central Arkansas and adjacent Oklahoma accumulated a deficit exceeding 10 inches since mid-August.
Some rainfall may occur over the next week across the state, but amounts will not be high enough to make noticeable improvements. Seasonal outlooks continue to show the possibility of a weak La Nina this winter. Typically a La Nina will result in above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation for the state. That does not mean we will not have bouts of arctic air or precipitation events. The seasonal drought outlook released this morning by the Climate Prediction Center shows additional drought development is likely this winter across a majority of Texas. Seasonal outlooks are far from a guarantee.