Great Plains Drought Resiliency Redeveloping?

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The Great Plains Drought Report: Drought resiliency developing.

Discussion: From North Dakota to Kansas, 91% of that stretch was in drought at the beginning of the year. That number lowers to 77% in early April. In the Oklahoma to Texas stretch, 68% of that region was in drought on the 1st of January lowering to 52% in early April. So…aerial coverage of drought has lowered through Q1/2023. However, intense D3/D4 drought remains prominent in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. The precipitation outlooks indicate worsening conditions are possible over the next 6 weeks.

Fig. 1: The area of drought concern based on shallow soil moisture deficit extends across the central and western Great Plains.

Fig. 2: Deep layer soil moisture deficits often foreshadow where drought will worsen due to the long-term climate implications producing this regime. The target area is the western Great Plains.

Fig. 3: The meteorological spring of 2023 (so far) precipitation bias which indicates dryness is persistent across the core of the drought area. Please note that medium range forecast models have been too wet in this zone during the past 30 days.

Fig. 4-6: Lack of rain and anomalous warmth can dry soils quickly. However, above normal wind speed also accelerates drying soils as indicated for northwest Texas to Iowa for much of the next 15 days.

Fig. 7: Significant rain in the central/south Great Plains is reliably generated by phase_2 of the Madden Julian oscillation during APR/MAY/JUN.

Fig. 8: The MJO 15-day forecast indicates a transition across the tropical Pacific (phase_6/phase_7) is indicated. The 15-day history plot (orange) indicates any future visit to desired phase_2 is short-lived.


Fig. 9: The GFS ENS MAXRES 15-day precipitation anomaly forecast indicates mostly dry conditions for the Great Plains drought zone.

Fig. 10: The ECMWF week 1-4 precipitation bias is dry across the Mid-south States with the wet anomaly in the Gulf region. This forecast leaves the Great Plains drought area susceptible to worsening conditions.

Fig. 11: The ECMWF week 5-6 precipitation bias is dry across most of the Great Plains although a small region of wet weather is projected in the Mid-south States. This forecast is also supportive of worsening drought in the central/western Great Plains.