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Drought Shifts to Southwest

Drought Shifts to Southwest

Texas, New Mexico take on fair share of dryness; Western U.S. experiences poor range and pasture conditions

Remnants of the 2012 continue to march into New Mexico and Texas, expanding into the four corners region, according to the National Drought Monitor.

Oklahoma is showing a slow retreat of the drought as scattered showers bring beneficial precipitation to some areas. A tight gradient still shows across the state as much of the eastern half of the state is free from drought while exceptional drought still exists in the other half.

Texas turned in changes to the Drought Monitor also, reflecting the dry pattern of the last few weeks and above normal temperatures. Heavy rains, however, showed up in the Panhandle, leading to some scattered improvement.

Texas, New Mexico take on fair share of dryness; Western U.S. experiences poor range and pasture conditions

Moving into the four corners region, temperatures have escalated along with fire and range condition concerns. According to the USDA, pasture and rangeland conditions there are 93% very poor to poor.

Mark Svoboda of the National Drought Mitigation Center said the expansion shows the region is "quickly becoming home to the new epicenter of the 2013 drought." D3 continues to expand into New Mexico, leaving most of the state in D3 or D4 drought.

While monsoon rains are due this month, summer heat and dryness continue to settle in.

Drought Shifts to Southwest

Here's a look at the U.S. Drought Monitor map for this week (top) as a comparison to last week (bottom).

Nationally, USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey said more than half is rated good to excellent – but the best pastures are east of the Mississippi River. Very poor to poor rated pastures are starting to decline, though they still exist in the western half of the country.

Farther north, Colorado and Wyoming show some degradation and drought is expanding in Idaho.

Overall, the Midwest and Southeast have almost completely recovered from dryness experienced last summer and early this year. Dry areas in Minnesota and Iowa have improved thanks to recent rains.

Looking ahead, Rippey said a storm system is evolving over the northwest and moving across the northern tier of the country, while tropical moisture should keep the southeast and Ohio Valley rather wet within the next five to seven days.

Above normal temperatures nationwide are expected June 25-July 1.

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