Precipitation this winter has reduced the severity of drought in some of last-year’s driest areas, but dry conditions have spread in some other regions over the past 12 weeks.
According to this week’s Texas Crop and Weather report from Texas A&M University, winter rain accumulations have varied from as much as five inches in some eastern Texas counties to one to three inches in central and north Texas. Parts of the Rolling Plains region of Texas have seen as much as 1.5 inches, while some areas in west central Texas got more than an inch. The rest of the state, however, remains extremely dry, as do large portions of Oklahoma, New Mexico and Southern Kansas.
Another area of extreme drought persists in the Southeast, with the driest conditions covering much of Georgia and extending into neighboring states, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
In Texas, as of Jan. 10, the Drought Monitor rates about 62 percent of the state as being under extreme to exceptional drought. That figure is an improvement from a week earlier on Jan. 3, when nearly 70 percent of the state was rated as extreme to exceptional drought. Back in October, 97 percent of the state was rated in the most extreme drought categories.
The areas that have improved from extreme to exceptional drought remain dry however, with the Drought Monitor upgrading their ratings to moderate or severe drought.
The U.S. Drought Monitor website provides a 12-week animation that graphically illustrates the changes in drought ratings across the Southern Plains since October 25.
The animation also shows the development of a large area of abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions emerging over California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
While the eastern Corn Belt enjoys at least normal moisture, dry conditions persist over much of Minnesota, North Dakota and parts of neighboring states. Within that region, a pocket of severe drought has emerged over much of northern Iowa and southern Minnesota – a key corn-growing area. There is still plenty of time for conditions to improve in that region before planting season, but farmers and market analysts will be watching the trend closely through the rest of the winter and into this spring.