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Drought Conditions in the High Plains Region-Update May 15, 2014

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Source/Author: Joseph Brum-High Plains Regional Climate Center 05/15/14

With a brief hiatus during the winter and lingering cold of the spring, the High Plains Region will be continuing its weekly drought summary for the Region. This week will be a brief overview of what has happened since the beginning of the year and a more detailed look at what has occurred this past week.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, since January 1, drought conditions overall have worsened. Much of this has occurred in the southern states of Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado (see comparison picture on the left). Since January 1, areas of moderate drought (D1) or worse have increased by about 13%, to total 61% of the Region. Also, areas of severe drought (D2) or worse increased by about 8%, to total 25% of the Region. The large portion of abnormally dry area that was in Wyoming at the beginning of the year has been removed along with the small portion of D1 that was in the east-central portion of the state.

Although over half of the Region is currently not under a drought or abnormally dry condition, the portions of the Region that are under drought conditions have gotten worse over the past few weeks. Even with precipitation this past week in Kansas conditions continue to worsen as the rain was not widespread and continues to be absent from the southern and western borders. In central Kansas, where there was precipitation, the area of extreme drought (D3) was upgraded to D2. Along the Oklahoma border is a different story though, as the lack of precipitation has introduced exceptional drought (D4).

The southeastern corner of Colorado has been suffering the effects of extreme and exceptional drought since the beginning of July 2012. The lack of precipitation over this period has created many dust storms in the area. Rain and snow again missed this portion of the state giving cause for expansion of D3 in the area. The area of D3 or worse now sits at 12.5% a jump of 4% from last week.

In Nebraska precipitation fell in two forms this past week. There was severe weather that brought a band of 3-5 inches of rain to the east central portions of the state. These heavy rains were enough to eliminate or upgrade D1 and D0 in the area. In the western panhandle of Nebraska there was a mix of rain and snow. This precipitation helped eliminate or upgrade D1 and D0 in the area. Precipitation fell along the northern border of the state where improvements in D2 occurred. The southwestern portion of the state saw a slight expansion of D3 where rains were missed or were minimal.

The southeastern corner of South Dakota has missed out on precipitation this spring as well. This departure from normal has created an area of D1 conditions. The states of North Dakota and Wyoming are currently drought free and only a small portion of Wyoming along the southern border has D0 conditions.

To learn more about the U.S. Drought Monitor, please see: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu

To see the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook, please see the Climate Prediction Center here:http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/sdo_summary.html

To see the areas of agriculture affected by the drought, please see the USDA link (Unavailable with Government Shutdown): http://www.usda.gov/oce/weather/Drought/AgInDrought.pdf

To see the impacts of the drought, please see the Drought Impact Reporter here: http://droughtreporter.unl.edu/

Check out the table below for the drought conditions over the past month for the High Plains Region.

To view statistics of the High Plains Region and each state check out the Regional Statistics here: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/DataArchive/Tables.aspx?high_plains

      Drought Condition (Percent Area): High Plains Region










 20.60 12.28  2.44







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