Heavy rainfall in the Southeast and a pair of heavy snow events in the Plains have made dents in the long-term drought in each region.
According to the latest Drought Monitor report released Thursday from the National Drought Mitigation Center, "extreme" drought, the second worst category of drought in this weekly analysis, has been erased from the Southeast region (from Alabama and Florida to Virginia) for the first time since August 2010.
The following cities have already broken their wettest Februaries:
- Macon, Ga. (12.87")
- Columbus, Ga. (12.47")
- Charleston, S.C. (10.47")
In fact, river flood warnings continue as of this writing in parts of north Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, as well as parts of soouthern Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
(MORE: Flood alerts)
U.S. Drought Status
U.S. Drought Status
Plains Improvement: Just a Step
The latest Drought Monitor report also illustrated some small improvements in the drought-suffering Plains states.
Snowfall from Winter Storm Q and Winter Storm Rocky eased the current drought status from "exceptional", the worst category, to "extreme", the second worst category, in parts of central Kansas, as well as northern and western Oklahoma.
Wichita, Kan. picked up over 21" of snow from both storms, setting a new monthly snowfall record. The official observing station in Amarillo, Texas measured 19" of snow from Winter Storm Rocky.
Other parts of Oklahoma were backed down a category from "extreme" to "severe" drought, the third worst category.
According to an analysis from NOAA's National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center suggests 1-2" of snow water equivalent (i.e., the liquid melted from the existing snowpack) exists from northwest Oklahoma into much of central/eastern Kansas, northern Missouri and parts of southern Iowa.
Unfortunately, there's still a long way to go.
As of February 26, 54% of the Contiguous U.S. remains in drought, only a reduction of only 11% in areal coverage since late September 2012. A total of 1.69 million square miles of the Lower 48 States are in drought, an area over six times the size of Texas.
According to an analysis from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, much of the Plains states still need up to an additional nine inches of rain/melted snow to completely zero out the drought. This makes the upcoming spring critical for drought relief, before the heart of summer's heat sets in over the Plains.
MORE: WINTER STORM ROCKY PHOTOS
St. Joseph, Mo.
Ethan High decided to taste the weather Tuesday Feb. 26, 2013 in St. Joseph, Mo. Ethan played in the morning snow with his aunt. (AP Photo/St. Joseph News-Press, Matt Reid)