Overview: This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw a few notable improvements and some serious degradation. One storm dumped much needed rain through the Midwest improving the drought conditions there from Iowa through Ohio. Other areas, such as the Southern and Central Plains, were not as lucky and continued to dry out. Another change that helped alleviate the drought in some locations was the easing of the heat.

Many areas from the Midwest to the South saw highs in the 80s F. this week instead of the 100s F. they had been experiencing. As of last week, 87 percent of the U.S. corn crop, 85 percent of soybeans, 63 percent of hay, and 72 percent of cattle areas were experiencing drought. Over half of the corn and soybean areas are experiencing Extreme (D3) to Exceptional (D4) Drought. This has led to both reduced yields and earlier harvests.

Looking Ahead: During the Aug. 16 – 20 time period, there is an enhanced probability of precipitation from the extreme South, through the Southeast and mid-Atlantic and through New England. From the West through the Great Lakes, there is a suppressed chance of precipitation. Below normal temperatures are expected from the center of the country eastward. The West is expected to see above normal temperatures.

For the ensuing 5 days (Aug. 21 – 25), the odds favor normal to below normal temperatures from just east of the Rockies to the east coast and also along the Pacific Coast. In a narrow band along the Rockies and in New England, the odds favor warmer than normal temperatures. Above normal precipitation is expected from New England, through the South and into the extreme Southern Plains.

Normal to below normal precipitation is expected over the rest of the lower 48 states. In Alaska, temperatures are expected to be below normal in the south and above normal along the Arctic Ocean while precipitation is expected to be above normal in the south and below normal along the Arctic Ocean.