ABRFC Drought Briefing(03/06/2014)

......Drought expanding again across much of the region..........

Although a few storms brought significant snowfall across parts of Colorado and Kansas, much of the basin has been relatively dry during the past several months. Precipitation has been much below normal across much of the region during the Winter. After some good rainfall put a big dent in the ongoing drought in the late Summer and Fall of 2013, the recent dryness started the cycle of expanding drought all over again.

Figure 1 shows the past 30 days of precipitation across the ABRFC area. The heaviest precipitation was in the highest elevations of Colorado and in Arkansas, which is to be expected during the winter. Relatively heavy precipitation also occured across much of Central Kansas, as several systems brought significant snowfall to that area. Most of the other areas within our basin saw precipitation during the past 30 days, but not close to what is considered seasonal. Figure 2 shows the departure from normal precipitation across the ABRFC at the 30, 60, 90, and 180 day timescales. This animation shows the tremendous swings in precipitation that are typical to this part of the country. At 30 days, much of the basin is dry to very dry, except across Central Kansas. At 60 and 90 days, the precipitation distribution across much of the basin is similar to that of 30 days. But, the 180 day image shows much of the basin was generally near normal. There is a tremendous difference between the 180 day and 90 day images across Eastern New Mexico and Colorado that can be attributed to the huge rainfall that area received in September. Other than that brief period, most of that area has been extremely dry compared to normal. Figure 3 shows a six week animation of the drought designations from the U.S. Drought Monitor. The scattered areas of the most severe drought in the western areas of the ABRFC continue are relatively persistent. Extreme Drought (D2) expanded across the Texas Panhandle, and Moderate Drought (D1) expanded across much of Oklahoma north of the I-44 corridor into Southeast Kansas.

Figure 4 shows the latest Drought Severity Index map based on the Long Term Palmer Index from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC). Since much of the recent dryness doesn't show up in this long-term drought product, much of the basin appears to be near normal. However, the longterm dryness across Northwest Texas and Southwest Oklahoma shows up very well. If our dry period continues, expect the dryness to expand in the image in the coming weeks. The CPC also generates the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook (Figure 5). Unfortunately, drought conditions are forecast to persist or worsen across much of the drought areas of the basin into Spring. The CPC's 3-month Precipitation Outlook is shown in Figure 6. The outlook calls for equal chances of near, above, or below normal precipitation across much the ABRFC for the next 3 months. On the Arkansas River, all reservoirs in eastern Oklahoma are near their normal pool elevations, although Eufaula is down to 93% of normal (Figure 7). A few reservoirs in the Red River Basin (Figure 8) still have below normal pool elevations, with the largest lake in the system (Denison) significantly below normal. This is expected, since much of the inflow area for this lake has been in the grips of a multi-year drought. Real-time river gage data from the USGS can be linked from Figure 9.

To view charts of the running precipitation total for 2014 compared to normal and for previous years back to 2006 for several locations across the ABRFC click here.

ABRFC is now producing experimental soil moisture graphics using parameters from our hydrologic distributed model. Click here.


Fig. 1: 30-day precipitation image ending 12Z on 03/06/2014 .


Fig. 2: Percent of Normal loop showing 30-day, 60-day, 90-day, and 180-day precipitation as of 12Z on 03/06/2014.


Fig. 3: 6-week animation of previous Drought Monitor maps. Click here for direct link.


Fig. 4 CPC's Long-term Drought Severity Index. Click here for direct link.


Fig. 5: CPC Seasonal Drought Outlook. Click here for direct link.


Fig. 6: CPC 3-month Precipitation Outlook. Click here for direct link.


Fig. 7: Tulsa District Corps of Engineers Percent of Conservation Pool for Lower Arkansas River


Fig. 8: Tulsa District Corps of Engineers Percent of Conservation Pool for Lower Red River


Fig. 9: Real-time USGS Streamflow Map. Click here for direct link.

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