Late February storms put only a slight dent in U.S. drought

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:14 PM GMT on February 28, 2013

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Abundant moisture from heavy rains and snows that fell during two major Midwest storms in late February put only a slight dent in the great Midwest drought of 2012 - 2013. According to the February 28, 2013 Drought Monitor, the percentage area of the contiguous U.S. suffering moderate or greater drought shrank from 56% to 54%, and the area in the worst category of drought--exceptional drought--fell from 6.7% to 5.4% over the past week. These are the largest 1-week improvements in these drought categories that we've seen for 9 months and 15 months, respectively. The improvements were most noteworthy in Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and the Southeast U.S., where drought improved by a full category (using the level 1 to 4 categories of the Palmer Drought Severity Index.) However, the dry pattern that has been dominant over the U.S. for most of the past year will re-assert itself during the coming ten days, and most of the drought region will receive less than 0.5" of precipitation through March 9. There exists the possibility of a significant Midwest storm on March 10, according to recent runs of the GFS and ECMWF computer models, but it is too early to assess if this storm may be able to provide significant drought relief. In general, droughts are more likely in the Midwest U.S. when warmer than average ocean temperatures prevail in the tropical Atlantic, with cooler than average ocean temperatures in the tropical Eastern Pacific (La Niña-like conditions.) This is what we had in during most of 2012, and continue to have in 2013. Equatorial East Pacific ocean temperatures are currently 0.5°C below average. This is similar to the ocean temperatures seen in the spring of 2012, just before the Great Drought of 2012 began. Most of the U.S. drought region needs 3 - 9" of precipitation to pull out of drought. Unless the Midwest receives a top-ten percent wettest spring on record, drought is going to be a huge concern as we enter summer.


Figure 1. Drought conditions as of February 28, 2013 showed that drought still gripped a majority of the U.S. Image credit: U.S. Drought Monitor.


Figure 2. Predicted 7-day precipitation for the period ending Thursday, March 7. Less than 10% of the U.S. drought regions are predicted to receive as much as 0.5" of precipitation (dark green color.) Image credit: NOAA/HPC.

Jeff Masters

2/25/13- Blizzard (akboss1995)
Canyon, Texas
2/25/13- Blizzard
Breaking Storm (CameraDiva)
A lifting storm above the Ruby Mountain peaks.
Breaking Storm
snow on ice over water... (linear)
icing followed by snow and temperatures just above freezing...
snow on ice over water...

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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Here's to hoping:
After next week your chances of snow will be none to zero.Last year when I saw 80's close to 90'sninMarch I knew snow was out of the cards.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Here's to hoping:
Is that showing snow for North Georgia?
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Here's to hoping:
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


I'f it hits at night I dont think so.
Air behind the low is into the 20s.

It just depends on placement, timing, and precip amounts, which I'm (very) skeptical about.

GFS shows 28-30F while it snows (plenty cold enough) espcially given that most GA snow falls at above freezing temps.


low confidence forecast on that clipper system that swings by you there. At least from what I gathered in the discussions in my local forecast area said they had a hard time believing that system would just flatten the ridge out ahead of it, saying the models are showing a southward bias.

LONG TERM...SUNDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY

MOSTLY SUNNY AND COOL WEATHER WILL PREVAIL ON SUNDAY...BEFORE THE
NEXT STORM SYSTEM COMES INTO THE PICTURE FOR MONDAY AND TUESDAY.
00Z FEB 28 MODELS CONTINUE TO ADVERTISE A CLIPPER SYSTEM DROPPING
SOUTHEASTWARD OUT OF CANADA...BUT STILL DO NOT HAVE A GOOD HANDLE
ON ITS TRACK. GFS/ECMWF BOTH TAKE THE 500MB VORT MAX FROM THE
NORTHERN ROCKIES MONDAY MORNING TO THE OZARKS BY TUESDAY
MORNING...WHILE THE GEM IS QUITE A BIT FURTHER NORTH. WAS
INITIALLY SUSPICIOUS OF HOW THE 00Z GFS FLATTENED THE STRONG
WESTERN CONUS RIDGE...BUT THEN THE 00Z ECMWF DID THE EXACT SAME
THING. BOTH MODELS ARE INSISTENT IN DRIVING THE UPPER SHORT-WAVE
RIGHT THROUGH THE RIDGE AXIS...RESULTING IN A MORE SOUTHERN TRACK
TO THE STORM SYSTEM THROUGH THE MIDWEST. FOLLOWING THIS SOLUTION
WOULD YIELD A PERIOD OF SNOW MONDAY NIGHT...WITH A RAIN/SNOW MIX
ACROSS THE CENTRAL/SOUTHERN ZONES ON TUESDAY AS SURFACE TEMPS RISE
WELL ABOVE FREEZING. WILL BRING LOW CHANCE POPS INTO THE ILLINOIS
RIVER VALLEY AS EARLY AS MONDAY AFTERNOON...BUT WILL FEATURE
GREATEST PRECIP CHANCES MONDAY NIGHT INTO TUESDAY AS THE WAVE
PASSES THROUGH. AFTER THAT...COOL/DRY WEATHER WILL RETURN FOR
WEDNESDAY.


Models have been consistent on this being a rather "wet" clipper type system.
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Athometx haven't seen you in a while.

According to CWG next Wenesday is our last chance to see snow.Yes I know snow can happen later in the year such as in April but their are hints that after the March cool down the blow torch will be set again.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
keeper is that high temps that the gfs shows
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Next week is the yearly Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference


Highlights from the Status of Action Items (downloaded WORD doc).

Moving from Deterministic to Probabilistic Methods for Forecasting Storm Surge

Based on the progress made in developing the PHISH outputs, a final decision on the SLOSH deterministic runs for 2013 will be made in time for the 2013 Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference (March 4). If the SLOSH deterministic runs will not be provided for 2013, then OS21 will transmit a national Public Information Statement immediately after the IHC.



Implementation of a Storm Surge Warning

OS21, through the NWS Storm Surge Team, will work with Regions and NHC to identify the WFOs which will actively participate in 2013 real-time non-public testing for the storm surge watch/warning. Pacific Region will opt out at this time, but WFO Honolulu/CPHC will remain engaged.



Medium-Range Tropical Cyclone Genesis Probabilities

NHC will issue an experimental 1-5 day tropical cyclone formation probability as part of the current Atlantic TWO beginning sometime between 15 July and 1 September, pending an in-house trial period during the first part of the season and the completion of the necessary technical development. Assuming additional technical development, also depict the probabilities graphically.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Quoting FunnelVortex:
Another one of my artworks.

LOL 'Road closed'!!! Like it.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
I the positive side if troughing is present during hurricane season on the east coast and the high is weak most storms can be deflected.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Asperatus clouds in New Zealand:



thanks dr. masters.


Hi everyone...

Yes Pcola originally put up that picture..it's amazing
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14870
Now you all are going to have to watch out in the south..I need to do more research but I found that usually when the south east have these big cold spells especially this late in the year have tropical problems later down the road.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
Quoting FtMyersgal:


No worries I was just messing with you. I'm retiring at the end of the year so I don't want to go backwards! :)


Just be glad that he did not say January, 2012. :)
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Apparently we have a slight chance at snow here too as well. The NWS included a slight chance of showers Saturday night into Sunday morning as they mentioned that models have gotten stronger with lift associated with the strong shortwave enough for a chance of "precip" for here(I noticed they didn't just say rain in the discussion).

They go on to say in the discussion that while the chance is very low, they will be watching closely in case any snow occurs in the area!

BTW unlike Central Florida, its possible that temps will be at or below freezing across much of the Tallahassee area during the time of potential precip.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7271
Another one of my artworks.

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Quoting Jedkins01:


lol typo :)

I corrected it!


No worries I was just messing with you. I'm retiring at the end of the year so I don't want to go backwards! :)
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Quoting deometer:
It's not just a matter of rain/moisture, but a matter of organic matter.  In other words, we need to get to work revivifying/rebuilding our soils so they can retain more of the moisture that falls and become more drought resistant/resilient.  Allan Savory just gave a talk at the TED 2013 conference on his biomimetic Holistic Pasture Management that does just that (add organic matter/build soil at an incredible rate, that is).  Still waiting on the video, but here's the article:

Fighting the growing deserts, with livestock: Allan Savory at TED2013
http://blog.ted.com/2013/02/27/fighting-the-growi ng-deserts-with-livestock-allan-savory-at-ted2013/

Allan Savory has dedicated his life to studying management of grasslands. And if that doesn't sound exciting, just wait, because it touches on the deepest roots of climate change and the future of the planet. 

"The most massive, tsunami, perfect storm is bearing down on us," is the grim beginning to Savory's talk. This storm is the result of rising population, of land that is turning to desert, and, of course, climate change. Savory is also unsure of the belief that new technology will solve all of the problems. He agrees that only tech will create alternatives to fossil fuels, but that's not the only thing causing climate change.
------- 
So what can they do? "There is only one option left to climatologists and scientists. That is to do the unthinkable: to use livestock, bunched and moving, as a proxy for the herds." Those herds mulch it down, leaving both the trampled grass and their dung. The grass is then free to grow without having damaged with fire. 
------ 
The results are stunning. For location after location he shows two comparison photos, one using his technique, one not. The difference is, "a profound change," and he's not kidding - in some cases the locations are unrecognizable (in one case the audience gasped). Not only is the land greener, crop yields are increasing. For example, in Patagonia, an expanding desert, they put 25,000 sheep into one flock. They found an extraordinary 50% improvement in production of land in the first year. 

(more at link)


And here are a few short videos on the process:

Holistic Planned Grazing

Allan Savory: How wildlife can resuscitate dying land (from an earlier TED Talk)

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I'd give this 10++++ if I could. Thanks!!!
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


Brrr.... Too cold for FL, and the high for the next few days is below 60!!!!!!!!! O_O
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Quoting FtMyersgal:


Heading into January? I'm heading into March her in Fort Myers :)


lol typo :)

I corrected it!
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7271
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
ridiculous.
looks like spilled vomit.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
Thank you Dr. Masters!! :D
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Quoting Jedkins01:



If this same pattern occurred in January we would be seeing teens in Brooksville, 20's even near the coast and highs in the upper 30's to low 40's along with snow for many coastal regions, possibly even accumulations if the winter was already quite cold.

As for the current trough. Forecasters are still going a bit conservative just because we are heading into January. I realize the higher sun angle, shorter nights, and warmer water will fight against the cold some. However I am confident highs will stay in the 50's both weekend days and Sunday will probably will be lower 50's for highs. Monday will be lucky to hit 60 in most areas still.



Heading into January? I'm heading into March her in Fort Myers :)
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Quoting FLWaterFront:




I am not seeing it either. But as I said before, if it is going to snow at all in Florida this weekend, it will snow in Florida this weekend, regardless of what the computer forecast models show. And likewise, if it is not going to snow then it will not snow regardless of whether the models depict that or not.

Perhaps we should save the excitement for the actual event itself, if it happens. As for me, I am rooting for next December or January to bring an atmospheric setup similar to the one predicted for this weekend. If THAT happens then you'll very likely get your snow and not just a few flakes here and there but a vast white carpet draped all across the Florida landscape. THEN we'll really have something!



If this same pattern occurred in January we would be seeing teens in Brooksville, 20's even near the coast and highs in the upper 30's to low 40's along with snow for many coastal regions, possibly even accumulations if the winter was already quite cold.

As for the current situation. Forecasters are still going a bit conservative just because we are heading into March. I realize the higher sun angle, shorter nights, and warmer water will fight against the cold some. However I am confident highs will stay in the 50's both weekend days and Sunday will probably will be lower 50's for highs. Monday will be lucky to hit 60 in most areas still.
I could see going a few degrees above the models but not to the level that they are. The models have been so consistent about the cold that it is a reasonable forecast to stick with.

I would still go with lows a bit higher on Friday night and Saturday night though than the models especially near the coast.


Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7271
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What Makes This Temperature Map Interesting?



It is a simple yet monumental thing if you are a warm weather lover! If you notice in this map the coldest temps I can find on this map are in So. Canada (you can see the key on the upper left) and not one single one is below zero!! This is HUGE if you are anxious for the air to start warming. What this is showing me is that the massive area of cold air that has been to the north the last 6 weeks is starting to break. Also climatologically this is the time of year that we start to warm up

Our drought is over:





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Rainfall amounts were truly crazy here! Check this out:



Major drought help.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7271
Looks like another La nina is in the making >.>..
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
ridiculous.
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Quoting SFLWeatherman:
Lots of moisture in the Atlantic....


This just made me pause and reflect... It's one of those days!?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It's not just a matter of rain/moisture, but a matter of organic matter.  In other words, we need to get to work revivifying/rebuilding our soils so they can retain more of the moisture that falls and become more drought resistant/resilient.  Allan Savory just gave a talk at the TED 2013 conference on his biomimetic Holistic Pasture Management that does just that (add organic matter/build soil at an incredible rate, that is).  Still waiting on the video, but here's the article:

Fighting the growing deserts, with livestock: Allan Savory at TED2013
http://blog.ted.com/2013/02/27/fighting-the-growi ng-deserts-with-livestock-allan-savory-at-ted2013/

Allan Savory has dedicated his life to studying management of grasslands. And if that doesn't sound exciting, just wait, because it touches on the deepest roots of climate change and the future of the planet. 

"The most massive, tsunami, perfect storm is bearing down on us," is the grim beginning to Savory's talk. This storm is the result of rising population, of land that is turning to desert, and, of course, climate change. Savory is also unsure of the belief that new technology will solve all of the problems. He agrees that only tech will create alternatives to fossil fuels, but that's not the only thing causing climate change.
------- 
So what can they do? "There is only one option left to climatologists and scientists. That is to do the unthinkable: to use livestock, bunched and moving, as a proxy for the herds." Those herds mulch it down, leaving both the trampled grass and their dung. The grass is then free to grow without having damaged with fire. 
------ 
The results are stunning. For location after location he shows two comparison photos, one using his technique, one not. The difference is, "a profound change," and he's not kidding - in some cases the locations are unrecognizable (in one case the audience gasped). Not only is the land greener, crop yields are increasing. For example, in Patagonia, an expanding desert, they put 25,000 sheep into one flock. They found an extraordinary 50% improvement in production of land in the first year. 

(more at link)


And here are a few short videos on the process:

Holistic Planned Grazing

Allan Savory: How wildlife can resuscitate dying land (from an earlier TED Talk)
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Asperatus clouds in New Zealand:



thanks dr. masters.
Apparently "Asperatus" means OMG IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD!!!! (jk) Actually it is Latin for "turbulence" and this particular cloud classification is as recent as only 2009 Link

I see these often when i'm on high ground here in Mid TN... but I never seem to have a decent camera with me :<
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Seals take scientists to Antarctic's ocean floor
By Pauline Askin
SYDNEY | Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:22am EST

Excerpt: (Reuters) - Elephant seals wearing head sensors and swimming deep beneath Antarctic ice have helped scientists better understand how the ocean's coldest, deepest waters are formed, providing vital clues to understanding its role in the world's climate.

The tagged seals, along with sophisticated satellite data and moorings in ocean canyons, all played a role in providing data from the extreme Antarctic environment, where observations are very rare and ships could not go, said researchers at the Antarctic Climate & Ecosystem CRC in Tasmania.

Scientists have long known of the existence of "Antarctic bottom water," a dense, deep layer of water near the ocean floor that has a significant impact on the movement of the world's oceans. Three areas where this water is formed were known of, and the existence of a fourth suspected for decades, but the area was far too inaccessible, until now, thanks to the seals.

"The seals went to an area of the coastline that no ship was ever going to get to," said Guy Williams, ACE CRC Sea Ice specialist and co-author of the study. "This is a particular form of Antarctic water called Antarctic bottom water production, one of the engines that drives ocean circulation," he told Reuters. "What we've done is found another piston in that engine."

Southern Ocean Elephant seals are the largest of all seals, with males growing up to six meters (20 feet) long and weighing up to 4,000 kilograms (8,800 lbs).


More here.
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6.9 mag. Earth Quake  Kuril Islands

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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


I'f it hits at night I dont think so.
Air behind the low is into the 20s.

It just depends on placement, timing, and precip amounts, which I'm (very) skeptical about.

GFS shows 28-30F while it snows (plenty cold enough) espcially given that most GA snow falls at above freezing temps.



Agree!!

It will be all about timing of precipitation falling and temperature at that time!
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6820
Last ECMWF was just a tiny bit off with out snow, not sure if it'll come around will see at 12Z if it shows a southeast low.
I dont think it will be too major if it pans out though, since major SE snow comes from gulf systems:
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Quoting aspectre:
9 FunnelVortex: A slight dent? For me, the current trend is a huge improvement.

So what are you seeing that I'm not? Or do you talking about just your local area?


Im talking about my local area.
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What was the official Rocky snowfall accumulation total for Kansas City?
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9 FunnelVortex: A slight dent? For me, the current trend is a huge improvement.

So what are you seeing that I'm not? Or are you talking about just your local area?
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Quoting FunnelVortex:



Looks like the system will be a bit too warm.


I'f it hits at night I dont think so.
Air behind the low is into the 20s.

It just depends on placement, timing, and precip amounts, which I'm (very) skeptical about.

GFS shows 28-30F while it snows (plenty cold enough) espcially given that most GA snow falls at above freezing temps.
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Quoting eddye:
gfs showing snow flakes in tampa and miami


Quoting robintampabay:


Not seeing that at all. Where are you seeing this?


I am not seeing it either. But as I said before, if it is going to snow at all in Florida this weekend, it will snow in Florida this weekend, regardless of what the computer forecast models show. And likewise, if it is not going to snow then it will not snow regardless of whether the models depict that or not.

Perhaps we should save the excitement for the actual event itself, if it happens. As for me, I am rooting for next December or January to bring an atmospheric setup similar to the one predicted for this weekend. If THAT happens then you'll very likely get your snow and not just a few flakes here and there but a vast white carpet draped all across the Florida landscape. THEN we'll really have something!
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Whoa there.... lets capture this moment:






I'll dance a snow dance to make sure this verifies.
Only 138 hrs....thats tuesday.....wednseday



Looks like the system will be a bit too warm.
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Whoa there.... lets capture this moment:






I'll dance a snow dance to make sure this verifies.
Only 138 hrs....thats tuesday.....wednseday
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.