Drought Intensifies in Far West, Across Great Plains

Drought continues to impact Western agriculture, threaten wheat growing areas

Published on: Mar 20, 2014

Southern Plains
A late winter storm generated widespread rain from northeastern Texas into eastern Oklahoma during the week, with totals topping 2 to 3 inches in the wettest locations, Luebehusen says. Consequently, some drought reduction was noted, particularly where rain was heaviest.

On the back side of the storm, strong winds kept western Oklahoma and central and western Texas from much drought relief. Several large dust storms heightened the drought's impacts.

The benefits of the February and early-March precipitation rapidly diminished across California and the Southwest as unseasonable warmth and dryness increased water demands and depleted snowpacks, Luebehusen said.

In northern portions of the region, an influx of Pacific moisture generated rain and mountain snow from the Cascades into the northern Rockies. Most of the heavy precipitation fell outside of the region's drought areas, with totals in southwestern Oregon averaging up to 2 inches below the weekly norm.

A disappointing water year continued in the Southwest, with warm, dry weather quickly negating the benefits of the precipitation from February and early March across California and the Great Basin. Most notably, extreme drought returned to coastal areas north of San Francisco as well as the Sierra Nevada.

Severe drought expanded across southern Nevada, where water-year precipitation has averaged 40% to 60% of normal.

Drought Intensifies in Far West, Across Great Plains