The latest U.S. Drought Monitor out Thursday shows that drought conditions have receded in some areas, but remain robust in others.
As like last week, the Plains are still in significant drought. High winds topping out at 70 mph blew over the area Oct. 16-18, raising dust and closing roadways. Though the wind was a negative factor for many, the same storm dropped precipitation on the eastern Dakotas and eradicated extreme drought conditions there.
Brad Rippey of the USDA says the Plains drought is limiting winter wheat emergence – only 13% of South Dakota's crop had emerged by Oct. 21, versus the 5-year average of 80%, he writes. Nebraska is also reporting the worst rangeland and pasture conditions, according to the USDA, topping out at 97% poor to very poor.
Rain and snow both improved dryness in some locations in the West, though rangeland and pastures are still in poor shape. California tied Nebraska's rating of 97% poor to very poor pasture.
Meanwhile in the Midwest, a swath of relief has crossed into central Indiana, while extreme drought is barely hanging on in the Northwestern corner of Illinois. Iowa remains mostly in extreme drought. Minnesota and Michigan received welcome rainfall, though conditions there are still severe to extreme.
A small section of extreme to exceptional drought remains in Central Georgia while the rest of the Southeastern states are either abnormally dry or are not experiencing drought conditions.
Into next week, Rippey predicts remnants of Hurricane Sandy to create a high-impact weather event in the eastern U.S. The Midwest is also slated for rain, while California and portions of the Plains will remain dry.