National Drought Summary for March 15, 2016
March 18, 2016
Two inches or more of precipitation fell in the northern Rockies. Precipitation amounts dropped off considerably to the south, with little to no precipitation falling across much of the Southwest. Mountain snowpack was effectively melted out already in Arizona and New Mexico, having dry implications for spring and summer streamflow. Snow water equivalent was near to above normal at many SNOTEL sites in Utah and Colorado and further north.
The upper-level low pressure system funneled saturating rains into the eastern sections of the Southern Plains, but the rains mostly missed the western sections. Rainfall amounts dropped off the further west you went in the region, with virtually no rain measured in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles into southeast Colorado and southwest Kansas and across most of Nebraska. D0 expanded from the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles into these parts of Colorado and Kansas and also adjacent parts of New Mexico, and D1 was added to the Oklahoma panhandle. USDA NASS reports from March 13 had 45 percent of the topsoil and 37% of the subsoil in Kansas short or very short of moisture, statewide, with conditions worse in the southwest to central sections, and USGS streamflow was quite low in central Kansas. This was early in the growing season, so only 7 percent of the winter wheat crop was rated in poor to very poor condition. Even though an inch or more of rain fell locally in western Oklahoma, the D0-D1 was left unchanged there to reflect continued low lake levels. In southeast Colorado, hot temperatures and strong winds were drying out soils and sending crops downhill fast, and numerous range fires were also occurring.