There have been few opportunities for relief in the West as drought continues to keep hold on a majority of California and Oregon, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported Thursday.
Even though California sees no changes on this week's map, more deterioration could be coming soon given the weather pattern, or lack thereof, and concern for water supply, fire and other impacts grows each week the rains and snows don't come, says Mark Svoboda of the National Drought Mitigation Center.
Concerns about snowpack and snow water equivalent values continue to remain in California, and dozens of locations have shattered their previous record low calendar year totals, Svoboda says.
Moderate drought, however, has pushed across Oregon and into Washington, leading to the Canadian border. In Idaho, the abnormally dry designation now covers the entire Panhandle and has pushed into more of extreme northwestern Montana, Svoboda notes.
The Southwest has also been dry since Oct.1, and monsoon season is over. Abnormally dry and moderate drought continues to expand slightly in southern and central Arizona. Northwestern Arizona has also seen an expansion of severe drought. Southern New Mexico also saw a slight expansion of moderate drought this week.
Drought status was largely unchanged for the Midwest this Drought Monitor period, frozen soils limit impacts.
There was continuing concern this week that record cold temperatures might be impacting wheat crops, given that most fields have little or no snow cover.
Looking ahead, during the Jan. 9-13, there are better prospects for well above-normal temperatures across most of the country, except for southwestern Colorado. Moisture is expected for the Plains, Lower Mississippi Valley, Gulf Coast and the Southeast.
Jan. 14-18, continued above-normal temperatures across the entire West and into the western Plains from Texas northward to North Dakota are expected. Alaska, the Great Lakes and the Gulf Coast appear to be headed for below-normal temperatures, Svoboda predicts. As for precipitation, odds favor below-normal chances for the West and central and southern Plains while Alaska, the northern Plains, Great Lakes and the eastern Seaboard can expect a better chance of above-normal precipitation, he says.
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