This week’s Drought Monitor may have given hope to possible, minuscule improvement in drought conditions across the nation’s heartland. 

Currently, 59 percent of the contiguous United State is in moderate or worse drought, improving by 0.65 of a percentage point.

As has been the trend since early September, states most impacted by the drought are located on the Plains. In particular, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Oklahoma are facing the highest percentages of exceptional drought, the highest level of drought reported by the Drought Monitor:

 Improvement seen in drought, but still not enough for many

Kansas: Exceptional drought conditions dropped by 8 percentage points this week to 31 percent, making it one of the most improved states this week. The improvements primarily occurred in the eastern half of the state, where between 0.5 and 1.5 inch of rain fell over the last seven days. Despite the improvement, 78 percent of the state is still in extreme or worse drought.



 Improvement seen in drought, but still not enough for many

Nebraska: Unfortunately for the Cornhusker State, the shifts in this week’s report were minimal thanks to little precipitation over the past week. Seventy-seven percent of Nebraska is in exceptional drought, shifting just 0.13 of a percentage point from last week’s report.



 Improvement seen in drought, but still not enough for many

Oklahoma: The Sooner State was able to receive some of the moisture that trailed into Kansas, with areas in the central and eastern parts of the state received up to one inch of rainfall. Drought conditions in these areas eased slightly but intensified throughout the western half. Thirty-two percent remain in exceptional drought, virtually unchanged from last week.



 Improvement seen in drought, but still not enough for many

South Dakota: Like Nebraska, South Dakota saw little moisture over the last seven days. As a result, there was very little change to drought conditions in the state. Extreme drought conditions dropped slightly, shifting to severe drought. However, 33 percent remains in exceptional drought.



Other agricultural states, primarily in the eastern Corn Belt, are showing vast improvements. Just three months ago, 98 percent of Indiana was in moderate or worse drought. Today, just 6 percent of the state is in moderate drought. The majority – 57 percent – has reported no drought.

See how your state is doing here.

Improvement seen in drought, but still not enough for manyDespite the improvement, the chances are increasing for a winter drought. In its Seasonal Drought Outlook, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects the drought to persist throughout the Plains states through the end of February. Some areas, primarily east of the Mississippi River, may see the drought improve.

The lack of El Nino complicates winter predications, and NOAA’s Winter Outlook shows a drier forecast for areas in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota, as well as the Pacific Northwest. Click here to read more.