National Current Conditions: March 6, 2024 - March 12, 2024

This past week brought hit-or-miss storms: Drought conditions in northern Missouri worsened, while southern Missouri improved. Western Wyoming improved, while eastern Wyoming worsened. Meanwhile, Minnesota and Texas saw only degradations. The Northwest, Northern Rockies, and Southeast improved.

As of March 12, 2024, 18.66% of the U.S. and Puerto Rico and 22.25% of the lower 48 states are in drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.


This Week's Drought Summary…

Moderate to heavy rain amounts fell across parts of the Southeast and Northeast this week, leading to localized improvements to ongoing drought and abnormal dryness in the Southeast, and mostly unchanged conditions in the Northeast, aside from western New York, which missed out on the heavier precipitation and saw minor degradations. The central third of the contiguous U.S. saw a mix of improvements and degradations, based on where heavier precipitation did or did not fall and where dry and windy conditions continued. Parts of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, the Michigan Lower Peninsula, southern Missouri and southeast Kansas saw improving conditions after heavier rains fell there. Meanwhile, moderate drought expanded in northwest Missouri and portions of west-central Wisconsin, Minnesota, northwest Iowa, the far southern Michigan Upper Peninsula and far northeast Wisconsin. Much of Texas remained the same, with a few degradations in the southeast corner and several degradations in central and southern Texas where long-term drought conditions are still causing impacts.

Recent dryness and warm and windy weather in northwest Oklahoma and the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles led to abnormal dryness developing there. Short-term dryness and high evaporative demand led to large areas of degrading conditions in northeast Wyoming, while west-central Wyoming, north-central Colorado, northeast Utah, western Montana, and the northern Idaho Panhandle all saw areas of improvement due to lower evaporative demand and improving snowpack recently. In Hawaii, an active trade wind pattern continued, leading to some improvements on the windward (northeast) slopes of the Big Island and Kauai, while a small area of moderate drought developed on the leeward (southwest) portion of Kauai. In Puerto Rico, a few improvements were made where recent rainfall has improved streamflows and crop stress, and lessened rainfall deficits and raised reservoir levels. No changes were made to the Drought Monitor this week in Alaska.


Looking Ahead...

According to forecasts from the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center, heavy snowfall is forecast in the Colorado Front Range area near the beginning of the forecast period (March 14-15), while heavy precipitation with this storm system is also likely across other parts of the Four Corners states. Aside from portions of the Four Corners states, much of the West is likely to stay dry through Monday evening. Farther east, through Monday evening, half an inch (or more) of precipitation is forecast from central Nebraska eastward into parts of the Rust Belt. Rainfall amounts of a half inch to 2 inches, with locally higher amounts, is also forecast from central Texas eastward through southeast Oklahoma, Arkansas and southeast Missouri to most of Georgia and Tennessee and southern Kentucky.

The National Weather Service 6-10 day forecast favors near-normal precipitation or above-normal precipitation across the contiguous U.S., covering the period from March 19-23. The highest confidence areas for above-normal precipitation are the Florida Peninsula, along the Gulf Coast, and from the Arizona/New Mexico border northward through Montana. Warmer-than-normal temperatures are favored across parts of the West, especially in Utah, Nevada, California, Idaho, Washington and Oregon, and in parts of the central and southern Great Plains. Below-normal temperatures are favored in the Southeast, excluding the southern Florida Peninsula where near- or above-normal temperatures are favored. Below-normal temperatures are also favored from central Montana eastward through North Dakota and northern South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, with below-normal temperatures slightly favored in the Ohio River Valley and Rust Belt.