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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270. BahaHurican
4:48 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Interesting setup over the Bahamas today... the wx is nasty, quite unlike March for us...



Not much change expected before Tuesday....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21458
269. FLWaterFront
3:37 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting StormTrackerScott:


That was followed by an Arctic Blast not the case this time. Gulf is very warm for this time of year and with WNW winds being so strong then I would right off any chance of snow occuring in FL (except the for NW Panhandle) maybe has a 5% chance of seeinf something.


OK, I would agree with that assessment, just wanted to clarify whether you were speaking of this upcoming event specifically or for the month of March in general.

You also mentioned a bit earlier how warm this winter has been. One big reason for this is that we have not had a single Arctic blast where a big trough set up in the Eastern US and a full-blown Arctic air mass drained southward through the CONUS. Instead, most of the earlier cold events had the heart of the Arctic air mass shunting off to the east over the Northern US, leaving us here in Florida with just the fringe effects. It is rare to go through an entire winter here without experiencing the full effects of at least one major Arctic outbreak.
Member Since: October 15, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 715
268. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
3:34 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
267. GeorgiaStormz
3:33 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Is wash rooting for the CMC?:
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9720
266. GeorgiaStormz
3:29 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Flurriies/ Light Snow on the loose:
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9720
265. GeorgiaStormz
3:28 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
HE SNOW WILL SPREAD SOUTHWARD ON SATURDAY AND BECOME MORE CONVECTIVE
IN NATURE DUE TO STEEP LAPSE RATES FROM THE SURFACE THROUGH 700MB.
THIS IS WHY THE PRECIPITATION TYPE CHANGES FROM LIGHT SNOW FRIDAY
NIGHT TO LIGHT SNOW SHOWERS ON SATURDAY.
THE SNOW SHOWERS WILL
ALSO CREATE HIGHER POTENTIAL FOR ACCUMULATIONS. WITH TEMPERATURES
ABOVE FREEZING ON SATURDAY...ACCUMULATIONS WILL BE MAINLY CONFINED
TO GRASSY AREAS AND ONCE THE SNOW SHOWER MOVES OUT OF THE AREA...THE
SNOW WILL MELT. ACCUMULATIONS WILL LIKELY REMAIN LESS THAN ONE-HALF
INCH IN MOST AREAS. THE EXCEPTION WILL BE IN THE HIGHER ELEVATIONS
WHERE TEMPERATURES WILL BE CLOSER TO 32 DEGREES AND LESS MELTING
WILL OCCUR.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9720
264. washingtonian115
3:28 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
I have a important meeting next Wenseday.When is this non factor of a storm going to come into he picture?.


I ask you guys because I see hypuweather and the market channel(TWC) already has doom and gloom for my area.Hypuweather is already saying to prepare for a all out blizzard.lololol.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
263. StormTrackerScott
3:24 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting FLWaterFront:


I have to disagree with you on this. Or maybe you are just saying that the forecast cannot be expected to mention snow for this specific event? If so, then I would not disagree with that, necessarily.

However, the high March sun angle does NOT preclude to possibility of snow occurring in Florida in March, per se. After all, it has happened before and on several occasions. The most notable instance was during the March, 1993 Superstorm, when several inches of accumulation was observed in parts of the Panhandle and snow showers were experienced in various parts of the northern half of the Florida Peninsula.


That was followed by an Arctic Blast not the case this time. Gulf is very warm for this time of year and with WNW winds being so strong then I would right off any chance of snow occuring in FL (except the for NW Panhandle) maybe has a 5% chance of seeing something.
Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 4 Comments: 2323
262. ILwthrfan
3:22 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
more snow for the snow-weary



I doubt we see those amounts. It would have to fall at night as for anything to fall during the day temperatures would have to be well below freezing to in order for it to accumulate. It's definitely happened before up here but usually falls at night to get anything significant.
Member Since: February 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1456
261. StormTrackerScott
3:20 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:






(Storm produces the Yellow in NJ NYC CT area):


(note the low and strong 850mb winds in NE on ecmwf )






And finally this strange trough and warmth at 240hrs, note the LLJ in the southern mississippi valley):



Models have been consistant in showing a very significant severe wx event around March 10th. Something to watch going forward.
Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 4 Comments: 2323
260. FLWaterFront
3:20 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting StormTrackerScott:


Sun angle too high now for snow to even be mentioned for FL. Also of note with this cold snap over the weekend there is going to be a thick cloud deck in place keeping temps much warmer than some might think for Sunday Night.



I have to disagree with you on this. Or maybe you are just saying that the forecast cannot be expected to mention snow for this specific event? If so, then I would not disagree with that, necessarily.

However, the high March sun angle does NOT preclude to possibility of snow occurring in Florida in March, per se. After all, it has happened before and on several occasions. The most notable instance was during the March, 1993 Superstorm, when several inches of accumulation was observed in parts of the Panhandle and snow showers were experienced in various parts of the northern half of the Florida Peninsula.
Member Since: October 15, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 715
259. GeorgiaStormz
3:15 PM GMT on March 01, 2013






(Storm produces the Yellow in NJ NYC CT area):


(note the low and strong 850mb winds in NE on ecmwf )






And finally this strange trough and warmth at 240hrs, note the LLJ in the southern mississippi valley):
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9720
258. trHUrrIXC5MMX
3:13 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
and LIFT OFF!!!!



Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14870
257. txjac
3:12 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting Skyepony:
4 minutes til launch of Space X Dragon-9 to ISS. Watch live here. Got my camera ready.


Was awesome to see
Member Since: April 24, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 2454
256. washingtonian115
3:12 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting RitaEvac:


Washington doesn't deserve ANYTHING, I rest my case
You live on the Texas coast right?.You don't live in Florida..And yes we do deserve snow in this barren cloudy winter.So many promises and so little to show for.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
255. Skyepony (Mod)
3:06 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
4 minutes til launch of Space X Dragon-9 to ISS. Watch live here. Got my camera ready.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37327
254. eddye
3:02 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
so are still having another strong cold front moving in next late week like wat it said yesterday
Member Since: August 12, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1204
253. RitaEvac
3:00 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting washingtonian115:
Yes.But when you think about the pathetic snow total of 1.5" at R.N.A and then Florida getting snow then we have a problem..


Washington doesn't deserve ANYTHING, I rest my case
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9628
252. trHUrrIXC5MMX
3:00 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
@ Pcola57

Would you please us today with one of those great astronomy pictures of yours?
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14870
251. trHUrrIXC5MMX
2:57 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting washingtonian115:
Yes.But when you think about the pathetic snow total of 1.5" at R.N.A and then Florida getting snow then we have a problem..


shall this winter deceive you then...
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14870
250. washingtonian115
2:55 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


why not? You live in the Mid Atlantic right?
There are chances for a major NE snowstorm next week
Yes.But when you think about the pathetic snow total of 1.5" at R.N.A and then Florida getting snow then we have a problem..
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
249. GeoffreyWPB
2:53 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Miami NWS Discussion

THE TEMPERATURE FORECAST CONTINUES TO SHOW A DECREASING TREND
ACROSS SOUTH FLORIDA TONIGHT AND THROUGH THE WEEKEND INTO THE
EARLY PART OF NEXT WEEK. THE RECENT GUIDANCE CONSENSUS INDICATES
THAT THE COLDEST TEMPERATURES AND WIND CHILLS ACROSS SOUTH FLORIDA ARE
EXPECTED SATURDAY NIGHT INTO EARLY SUNDAY AND SUNDAY NIGHT INTO
EARLY MONDAY. THERE IS STILL A CONSIDERABLE SPREAD IN THE ARRAY OF
AVAILABLE TEMPERATURE GUIDANCE BUT THE CONSENSUS IS THAT BY EARLY
SUNDAY MORNING TEMPERATURES IN THE NORTHWEST INTERIOR COULD REACH
THE UPPER 30S AND BY EARLY MONDAY MORNING COULD REACH THE MID TO
UPPER THIRTIES. OF COURSE STILL NEED TO STRESS THE UNCERTAINTIES
BUT THE LATEST SHORT RANGE ENSEMBLE INDICATES A VERY LOW PROBABILITY
OF TEMPERATURES REACHING NEAR FREEZING MONDAY MORNING IN GLADES
COUNTY...BUT THERE IS SOME OUTLIER GUIDANCE INDICATING NEAR
FREEZING TEMPERATURES ARE POSSIBLE. WIND CHILLS COULD BE AN ISSUE
WITH WIND CHILLS IN THE UPPER THIRTIES POSSIBLE ACROSS PALM BEACH
COUNTY EARLY SUNDAY MORNING AND ON EARLY MONDAY MORNING WITH WIND
CHILLS BELOW FORTY DEGREES POSSIBLE ACROSS MUCH OF THE EAST COAST
METRO AREAS. BY TUESDAY A WARMING TREND IS FORECAST.

For West Palm Beach...

Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10971
248. trHUrrIXC5MMX
2:53 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
more snow for the snow-weary

Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14870
247. TropicalAnalystwx13
2:50 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Brandon sinkhole: 37-year-old man Florida man swallowed by sinkhole that opened under his bedroom

Talk about having a bad day. Of all the ways to die too...
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31430
246. trHUrrIXC5MMX
2:48 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting washingtonian115:
Floridians seemed press to get snow.If I can't get none they defientely can't either.


why not? You live in the Mid Atlantic right?
There are chances for a major NE snowstorm next week
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14870
245. washingtonian115
2:42 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Floridians seemed press to get snow.If I can't get none they defientely can't either.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16383
244. SFLWeatherman
2:30 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Not for me in Loxahatchee, Florida i got rain for the lest 5 days now and one day i got 2 inch and maybe got up to 4 inch in the lest 5 days!:)
Quoting Jedkins01:



Not just one of the warmest, you forget the rainfall has been nearly non-existent. It might be the "dry" season but average rain during these months is still 2.5 to 3.5 per month.
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4387
243. ncstorm
2:26 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Good Morning..beautiful day here in eastern NC-thought this was interesting on how far the 540 line is and where the moisture is..

JMA Model
48 hours


72 hours


Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14418
242. VR46L
2:26 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting StormTrackerScott:


Sun angle too high now for snow to even be mentioned for FL. Also of note with this cold snap over the weekend there is going to be a thick cloud deck in place keeping temps much warmer than some might think for Sunday Night.



I was shocked to see it on yesterdays runs for Tampa ! LOL
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6820
241. SFLWeatherman
2:25 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
In the 50's in WPB and no sun!
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4387
240. trHUrrIXC5MMX
2:24 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Good Morning guys

Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14870
239. Jedkins01
2:23 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Brandon sinkhole: 37-year-old man Florida man swallowed by sinkhole that opened under his bedroom



That is just horrific...
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7271
238. VR46L
2:21 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting StormTrackerScott:


MJO. Also this negative NAO is beginning to warm the "eastern" equatorial Pacific waters.





Could it be a sign of an early start to the E-PAC season ?
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6820
237. Jedkins01
2:20 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting StormTrackerScott:
Drought has been wiped out across the FL Panhandle but C and S FL still need rain very bad as we have had one of the warmest winters in history. Many days so far this year in Orlando around 90 which is very unusual so early in the year.




Not just one of the warmest, you forget the rainfall has been nearly non-existent. It might be the "dry" season but average rain during these months is still 2.5 to 3.5 per month.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7271
236. StormTrackerScott
2:19 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting VR46L:
The 06z GFS snow doesn't get far south and Zip for florida

GFS Snow cast Twisterdata


Sun angle too high now for snow to even be mentioned for FL. Also of note with this cold snap over the weekend there is going to be a thick cloud deck in place keeping temps much warmer than some might think for Sunday Night.

Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 4 Comments: 2323
235. VR46L
2:15 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
The 06z GFS snow doesn't get far south and Zip for florida

GFS Snow cast Twisterdata
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6820
234. StormTrackerScott
2:10 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting VR46L:
Some interesting Clouds seem to be feeding in from the Pacific



MJO. Also this negative NAO is beginning to warm the "eastern" equatorial Pacific waters.



Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 4 Comments: 2323
233. Skyepony (Mod)
2:08 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Nuclear event in France.. Well sorta the plant is falling apart..radiation still contained..

Two people have died and one is seriously injured after an accident at Cattenom nuclear power station located in Moselle, according to police sources. The accident occurred on Thursday shortly after 5pm at the central nuclear reactor building. Unit 4 had been closed to allow for a ten-year safety inspection and maintenance check. According to early witness accounts part of a platform and ladder broke off and fell four metres onto workers. The victims are thought to be from two different companies providing inspection and maintenance services. Managers of the site underline that it is not a nuclear accident and there is no risk to surrounding communities. La central de Cattenom, close to the border with Germany has 4 reactors of one thousand and 300 megawatts each and is number 7 in the world.

Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37327
232. VR46L
1:59 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Some interesting Clouds seem to be feeding in from the Pacific

Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6820
231. Skyepony (Mod)
1:58 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Live webcast for the Space X Dragon launch to the International Space Station has begun. No technical issues. Weather is 80% go. Launch is at 10:10am est.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37327
230. StormTrackerScott
1:53 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting SFLWeatherman:
He is presumed dead how is that lol??


I didn't know he was presumed dead but either way a very day for that guy.
Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 4 Comments: 2323
229. StormTrackerScott
1:50 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Enjoy this as this maybe the last time we see these temps for about 8 to 9 months.

Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 4 Comments: 2323
228. SFLWeatherman
1:48 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
He is presumed dead how is that lol??
Quoting StormTrackerScott:


Now that's a bad day. LOL!
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4387
227. StormTrackerScott
1:40 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Brandon sinkhole: 37-year-old man Florida man swallowed by sinkhole that opened under his bedroom


Now that's a bad day. LOL!
Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 4 Comments: 2323
226. StormTrackerScott
1:39 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Great news long term for the Midwest.

Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 4 Comments: 2323
225. biff4ugo
1:39 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Polar Navy (Raster) background in wundermap needs to remove large legend squares, like the one for the Mississippi map that covers all of NE Florida including Jacksonville and the mouth of the St. Johns River.

Nice Drought map Scott.
Member Since: December 28, 2006 Posts: 114 Comments: 1543
224. StormTrackerScott
1:37 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Drought has been wiped out across the FL Panhandle but C and S FL still need rain very bad as we have had one of the warmest winters in history. Many days so far this year in Orlando around 90 which is very unusual so early in the year.

Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 4 Comments: 2323
223. StormTrackerScott
1:34 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Good Morning!

Member Since: February 28, 2013 Posts: 4 Comments: 2323
222. barbamz
1:32 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Morning folks! Very, very powerful eruption of Etna yesterday. Watch it on Youtube (embedding is forbidden, unfortunately). Have a nice day!

Link

Edit (from Sky News):
Mount Etna has dramatically erupted, sending a huge stream of ash high into the air from one of its central craters, Voragine.

The volcano, which stands 3,329 metres (11,000 feet) above eastern Sicily, is almost constantly active.

The current series of violent bursts, known as paroxysms, began on Februrary 19.

By Saturday, 800m (2,600ft) high fountains of bright orange lava were spewing out of Bocca Nuova, another of Etna's central craters.

Despite the enormous clouds of ash, flights in and out of nearby Catania airport have not been disrupted.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield, aboard the International Space Station, captured the volcano on camera earlier this week.

The Canadian and his ISS crewmates had been tweeting a selection of stunning images of the Earth from space when they passed over Etna as it was spewing ash and steam.
Member Since: October 25, 2008 Posts: 51 Comments: 5620
221. pcola57
1:25 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Quoting islander101010:
senator rubio voting against disaster relief?????? wheres he from? he:s too busy looking into a mirror thinking hes going to be president to understand the importance of this vote. watch out miami if you get hurt.


Source??
Link??
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6770
220. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
1:23 PM GMT on March 01, 2013
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296

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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.