This U.S. Drought Monitor week has been dominated primarily by the passing of the Hurricane Sandy and her remnants. This powerful, far-reaching storm passed along the East Coast before making landfall near Atlantic City, N.J., on Monday and combining with a mid-latitude Low pressure system as it continued it trek through the Mid-Atlantic and into the Northeast.
In its wake, the storm dumped up to over eight inches of rain in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. The highest total, 9.57 inches as of Tuesday morning, fell at the Oceana Nas/Soucek airport in Virginia. States up the coastline from North Carolina to New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island experienced significant flooding, while wind and wave events were felt as far west as Wisconsin and Illinois. In the Appalachian Mountains unofficial totals of over two feet of snow fell in western Maryland and nearly that amount in parts of West Virginia by Tuesday morning.
More than 8.2 million people experienced power outages from the combination of rain, wind, snow and flooding. Transportation has been disrupted with more than 10,000 flights canceled and many roads and bridges impassable. Thirty-nine deaths in the U.S. have been attributed to the storm as of Tuesday including at least one from the HMS Bounty, a replica of the 18th-century tall ship that was caught in the storm off the coast of North Carolina.
The Southeast: With the exception of the East Coast of Florida and coastal North Carolina, beneficial precipitation largely eluded the Southeast. Along coastal North Carolina, including the Outer Banks, Abnormal Dryness (D0) was alleviated. Conversely, in central North Carolina, Abnormal Dryness (D0) expended. Areas of northern, eastern, and southern Georgia and southern Alabama saw expansion of Moderate Drought (D1) and Abnormal Dryness (D0) as precipitation deficits mount and impacts begin to be felt again.
The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic: With the exception of areas of central Virginia and Upstate New York, the remnant of hurricane Sandy erased all Moderate Drought (D1) and Abnormal Dryness (D0) in the region.
The South and Southern Plains: In Oklahoma, Extreme Drought (D3) expanded slightly in the center of the state as many areas have now gone more than 30 days without rainfall and soil moisture impacts are intensifying. In Texas, drought conditions improved in the eastern and central part of the state, while Exceptional Drought (D4) intensified slightly along the south coast. Drought in other parts of the region remained the same.
The Central and Northern Plains and Midwest: More widespread rains in the Midwest alleviated some D2-D0 Drought through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and Iowa. North Dakota saw a minor alleviation of Severe (D2) and Moderate Drought (D1) in the north and central parts of the state.
The West: Severe Drought (D2) conditions in Arizona and New Mexico expanded slightly. Conversely, areas of Extreme (D3) and Severe (D2) Drought in southeast and southwest Wyoming saw improvement from recent precipitation.
Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico: Drought conditions remained unchanged in Alaska and Hawaii this week. Another week of beneficial, above-normal precipitation has eradicated the Abnormal Dryness (D0) in Puerto Rico.
Looking Ahead: During the Nov. 1 – 5 time period, there is an enhanced probability of precipitation from the Southern Plains, extending up through the Great Lakes and into northern New England. A second area of enhanced precipitation probabilities is expected in the Northwest. Above-normal temperatures are expected in a large swath from the Southern Plains into the High Plains and the West. Below-normal temperatures will mostly be constrained to the North and the East.
For the ensuing 5 days (Nov. 6 – 10), the odds favor normal to above normal temperatures across the CONUS with the exception of the Southeast, where the odds favor below normal temperatures. Normal to below-normal precipitation is expected from the Tennessee Valley, through the South and Central Plains, and across most of the West. The odds of above-normal precipitation are greatest across the northern Plains, into the Great Lakes, all down the East Coast, and in southern Texas. In Alaska, temperatures are expected to be normal to above-normal in the north and below-normal in the south. Precipitation is expected to be above-normal in northern Alaska and normal to below-normal across the rest of the state.