The latest U.S. Drought Monitor, released Thursday, shows expanding drought in the far West and Southwest along with an expansion of abnormally dry conditions into Louisiana and further into Arkansas.
Monsoon rains projected to ease the growing drought problem in the Southwest have benefited portions of the region, however. Several inches of rain showed up in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona over the last week, setting records in areas of Arizona.
Top soil reports from the USDA are also favorable for New Mexico, going from 96% poor to very poor to 88% poor to very poor.
However, conditions still deteriorated in Idaho and Oregon, rising from 39% to 45% top soil short to very short and 54% to 66% short to very short, respectively.
Pasture and rangeland in Washington, Montana and Oregon are also deteriorating as a result of growing precipitation deficits. Abnormally dry conditions and moderate drought has expanded in much of the area.
Across the Southern Plains, drought or abnormal dryness expanded in parts of Texas and Oklahoma, but 7-day rainfall totals in portions of both states were favorable. The heaviest report in Oklahoma tallied more than 4 inches, though drought was largely impacted because the areas receiving rain were relatively drought-free. The same goes for parts of Texas, which saw nearly 9 inches of rain.
Big swings in pasture and rangeland were recorded in the Southern Plains and Mid-South. One of the largest changes last week was Arkansas' conditions, which rated 39% good to excellent last week and has dropped to 31% as of July 14.
Meanwhile, a jut of dryness appeared in Southern Iowa and Missouri as a result of 30-day rainfall deficits and worsening soil moisture. Warming temperatures have also contributed to the expansion.
Hot, dry weather combined with small areas of minimal rainfall further into the Corn Belt hasn't resulted in any dryness or drought designations further east than Missouri, though it has fueled concerns for the corn crop as it enters pollination.
However, near to above normal temperatures and near to above normal rainfall is expected across the majority of the U.S. in the coming week, says USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey. There is also a possibility of showers in the Mid-South, which would be a boon after 4-5 dry weeks, he said.
Though above-normal temps are expected, "that doesn't necessarily mean extreme heat for the Midwest," Rippey noted.