Drought Monitor

During the next 5 days (February 14-18, 2019) a large storm system is expected to bring another round of heavy precipitation to the Far West. At least 2 inches are expected in a broad area from the central Oregon coast and Cascades southward through both the higher elevations and coastal areas of California, plus much of the Sacramento Valley. More than 6 inches are forecast in much of northwestern California, and even higher amounts (7 to locally 15 inches) are expected throughout the higher windward elevations of the Sierra Nevada. Farther east, 1.5 to locally over 3.0 inches of precipitation are forecast for the higher elevations of central and southeastern Idaho, west-central Wyoming, southwestern and north-central Utah, western Colorado, and central Arizona, with highest amounts most likely in north-central Utah and adjacent areas. The remaining areas from the Rockies westward should see anywhere from 1.5 inches to just a few tenths of an inch (amounts generally increase with elevation). In the Nation’s mid-section, not much precipitation (a few hundredths to under 0.2 inch) is anticipated in the dry areas of northern North Dakota and Minnesota, and even less is forecast for areas of dryness and drought in southern Texas and the southern High Plains (most areas precipitation-free with small, isolated spots getting up to a few hundredths of an inch). Moderate rains of 0.5 to near 1.5 inches are expected in the dry areas in southeastern Florida.

Meanwhile, the Dakotas and most of Montana can expect much colder than normal conditions. Temperatures should average at least 10°F below normal there, with daily high temperatures 21°F to 27°F below typical seasonal values. A broad area is expected to see daytime highs at least 3°F below normal, from the Great Lakes and northern Ohio Valley westward through the central and northern Plains and all areas from the Rockies westward. Nighttime readings, on the other hand, should remain near or a little above normal outside the northern half of the Plains and northern Rockies. To the south and east, above-normal temperatures should prevail. Five-day average departures of +5°F to near +10°F are expected to cover most of Texas, the central Gulf Coast, most of the Southeast, portions of Florida, and the southern mid-Atlantic region.

According to the 6- to 10-day forecasts from the Climate Prediction Center, February 19-23, 2019 will bring enhanced chances for surplus precipitation to most of the Nation. Odds tilt toward dryness only in Maine and northwestern California, and neither precipitation extreme is favored in the central West Coast States, part of the northern Rockies, most of the Great Lakes region, northern New England, and the southern Florida Peninsula. Wet weather is favored elsewhere, with the highest chances (70 percent, compared to a climatological freqiemcu of 33.3 percent) in the Carolinas, northern Georgia, and adjacent areas. The Southeast is also expected to average warmer than normal, with odds exceeding 80 percent in the central and northern Florida Peninsula. A much larger proportion of the country has enhanced chances for subnormal temperatures, specifically across the Northeast, the Great Lakes, and from the Plains westward to the Pacific Ocean. Odds for colder than normal weather reach 90 percent in a large part of the interior West from eastern sections of the West Coast States through roughly the northwestern two-thirds of the Rockies. Like most other parts of the country, odds favor cooler and wetter than normal conditions, though with less extreme chances.

Once again, moderate to heavy precipitation covered most of the region, leaving dryness limited to a small area in northwestern Minnesota. Cold weather and frozen ground doesn’t allow for much change during winter, and Drought Monitor changes were introduced this week. Since late November, the only change made was a slight reduction in D0 coverage on the southern fringes of the dry region, equal to approximately 0.5 percent of the state.