High Plains

The primary concern on the High Plains centered on locally severe flooding in the Missouri River Basin, though localized dryness intensified in some western locales. Moderate to heavy rain (1-2 inches) eliminated the lingering pockets of Abnormal Dryness (D0) in northeastern Colorado and western Nebraska, while a continuation of wet weather (0.5-1 inch) in east-central Colorado facilitated the reduction of D0 east of Colorado Springs. Meanwhile, another round of moderate to heavy snow across central and western Colorado pushed mountain snowpack Snow Water Equivalents (SWE) to record or near-record levels (approaching or reaching the 100th percentile); as a result, additional reductions to the lingering long-term D0 and Moderate Drought (D1) were made. Note the drought over much of the Four Corners is almost exclusively now long-term (L) drought, with deficits most pronounced at 24 months (50-80 percent of normal) and beyond. Despite the overall trend toward drought removal on the High Plains, pronounced short-term dryness over the past 60 days (20-50 percent of normal) east of the Bighorn Mountains led to a small increase in D0 in north-central Wyoming.


Increasingly dry conditions in the Northwest contrasted with additional recovery from long-term drought from the Great Basin into the central and southern Rockies.

Across central and southern portions of the region, moderate to heavy precipitation (0.5 to more than 1 inch) fell from Nevada east-southeastward into Colorado and northeastern New Mexico. This week’s precipitation—on top of last week’s rain and snow—as well as input from local experts led to widespread reduction of the southern High Plains’ Abnormal Dryness (D0). Across northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, precipitation over the past two weeks has totaled an impressive 1 to 5 inches (liquid equivalent), pushing mountain Snow Water Equivalents (SWE) toward record levels (80-100th percentile) and begetting notable reductions in drought intensity and coverage. Similar SWE were reported across Utah and Nevada, with corresponding decreases to the lingering D0 and Moderate Drought (D1). Note the drought over much of the Four Corners is almost exclusively now long-term (L), with deficits most pronounced at 24 months (50-80 percent of normal) and beyond.

Farther north, a drought-free California contrasted with increasingly dry conditions across the Northwest and northern Rockies. Changes to the Northwestern drought depiction were minor and confined to small increases of D0 and D1 in northern and western Washington. However, local experts are becoming concerned as water-year precipitation (70-80 percent of-normal) has been subpar in the central and northern Cascade Range and environs, exacerbated by acute short-term dryness (60-day precipitation totaling 30 to 50 percent of normal in Washington, slightly more in northwestern Oregon). Furthermore, snowpacks remained much lower than those seen farther south, with SWE in the 10th to 30th percentile over much of Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana.


The Midwest remained free of drought, with significant flooding impacting the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

Looking Ahead

Outlook for April 2–6 calls for near- to above-normal precipitation across most of nation, save for pockets of dryness in the Southwest and central Gulf Coast region; drier-than-normal conditions are also expected over Alaska. Colder-than-normal weather over northern portions of the Plains and Upper Midwest will contrast with above-normal temperatures in northern- and southern-most portions of the Atlantic Coast States and from the Four Corners into the Northwest and Alaska.