National Conditions: December 14, 2022 - December 20, 2022

Winter is here along with dangerously cold temperatures... Precipitation this past week helped improve drought conditions in the Mississippi River Basin. Meanwhile, the Plains are still in rough shape, despite some improvements in the Northern Plains. The West has good snowpack but needs more.

As of December 20, 2022, 41.22% of the U.S. and Puerto Rico and 49.31% of the lower 48 states are in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

This Week's Drought Summary...

This week, moderate to heavy precipitation fell over the northern Great Plains, parts of the Upper Midwest and much of the south-central and northeast U.S. This led to widespread improvements in drought conditions and abnormal dryness in these areas, as precipitation deficits lessened and soil moisture and groundwater and streamflow improved. Meanwhile, the West region was much drier this week than the last few, so few changes were made there, and mostly long-term drought and abnormal dryness continued across much of the region. A Kona low affected the Hawaiian islands this week, dumping heavy amounts of precipitation in the form of thunderstorms and high mountain snows on the Big Island, which led to improvements over most of the islands.

Looking Ahead...

As the current week leading up to Christmas Day comes to a close, a powerful storm system will drag a strong Arctic cold front through much of the central and eastern U.S. to the east of the Rocky Mountains. Light to moderate precipitation amounts, much of it in the form of snow in the central Great Plains and Midwest, will transition to heavier precipitation as the storm system strengthens in the Great Lakes region late in the week. Moderate to heavy precipitation accumulations are likelier in the eastern Great Lakes, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Into early next week (the week of Monday, December 26), heavier precipitation is also likely in northern Idaho and in far northwest California, western Oregon and western Washington.

Looking ahead to December 27 through New Year’s Eve, the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center’s outlook favors warmer-than-normal temperatures in most of the Lower 48, with the exception of most of the Southeast region. Above-normal precipitation is strongly favored in much of the West, moderately favored from the Great Lakes south to the Gulf Coast and slightly favored in the Central and Northern Great Plains. Below-normal precipitation is favored in central and southern Texas and in New England. In Alaska, above-normal precipitation is favored in the southern half of the state, above-normal temperatures are favored in southeast Alaska and below-normal temperatures are favored in the northwest half of Alaska. For the period spanning December 29 through January 4, above-normal temperatures are favored over the entire Lower 48, and above-normal precipitation is favored over most of the Lower 48 as well. Above-normal precipitation is favored in southern Alaska, while temperatures are likely to vary from warmer than normal in the southeast to colder than normal in the Northwest.