Weekly Summary: This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw a few notable improvements and some serious degradation. Temperatures have generally been below normal this week from the east side of the Rockies to the East Coast, with the exception of Texas, the Southeast Coast and northern New England.

This has helped ease drought impacts, particularly in those areas where beneficial precipitation fell. One such area is in the Ohio Valley where parts of Indiana saw more than five inches of rain. This is the second straight week of beneficial precipitation for some of these areas and this precipitation has largely alleviated Exceptional Drought (D4) from the state, despite lingering impacts still being felt.

Last week, drought gripped slightly less of the agricultural land in the country with 85% of the U.S. corn crop, 83% of soybeans, 63% of hay, and 71% of cattle areas experiencing drought. Nearly half of the corn (49%) and soybean (46%) areas are experiencing Extreme (D3) to Exceptional (D4) Drought. This has led to both reduced yields and earlier harvests.

Additional impacts this week include closing of an 11-mile stretch of the Mississippi River near Greenville, Miss., to barge traffic because of low water levels and wildfires expanding from northern California to Idaho.

Looking Ahead: During the Aug. 23 – 27  time period, there is an enhanced probability of precipitation in the Northern Plains and in the extreme South throughout the entire period, as well as in the Southwest and the south Atlantic Coast early in the period, and around the Great Lakes later in the period. Below normal precipitation is expected in the Northwest, New England and into the Ohio Valley. The northern tier of the country is expected to see above normal temperatures.

For the ensuing five days (Aug. 28 – Sept. 1), the odds favor normal to above normal temperatures everywhere in the U.S. with the exception of the Pacific Coast. Normal to below-normal precipitation is expected from the West Coast, through the Southern and Central Plains and into the Ohio Valley and South. Above-normal precipitation is expected from the Northern Plains, through the Great Lakes, and all along the East Coast.

In Alaska, temperatures are expected to be normal to above-normal over the entire state and precipitation is expected to be below normal in the south and above normal in the north.