Drought Conditions in the USA Remain Mixed After a Wet Week

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A week of wet and frigid weather brought significant relief to drought-stricken regions across the United States, especially in states east of the Plains. However, the West, though finally experiencing substantial snowfall, continues to grapple with the aftermath of extreme dryness that started off the water year.

According to the National Integrated Drought Information System, part of the National Weather Climate Prediction Center, recent storms, spanning the early days of January, have contributed to notable improvements in moisture levels across the eastern states, mitigating drought conditions to a significant extent.

Yet in the West, which has been parched in the preceding months, is just now witnessing an influx of snow. Though, forecasters say despite this, the recent improvement may not be enough to erase existing deficits completely.

Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) observations at various SNOTEL stations were at record-low values. Storms over the next week are expected to continue improving conditions, but a complete recovery remains uncertain.

The Sierra Nevada region, in particular, has experienced persistently dry conditions over the past month, with snow drought firmly entrenched across the range. Most SNOTEL stations in this area report SWE values less than 50% of normal. While a few small-to-moderate storms have occurred, the absence of larger atmospheric river storms with substantial moisture has hampered efforts to alleviate drought.
Forecasts indicate the possibility of additional smaller storms in the coming week, offering a glimmer of hope for a gradual reduction in seasonal deficits.

Forecasters say a sustained effort is required to address the lingering effects of the drought outlook and ensure long-term water security across the country.