Drought is still impacting many beef producers across the USA, especially in the Southern Plains, Desert Southwest and far west/California. There are a few “stubborn” areas that refuse to go away. This is especially true in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and portions of Nebraska and southeast Colorado. There is a “finger” of drought that runs north to south across those areas. The persistent drought in California continues as you can see in the latest drought monitor below.
In the short term (the next week to ten days) there will be some help to some of the drought areas listed above. Especially in central and northern California where some good rains are on the way. Showers and thunderstorms will also be more likely over portions of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and even portions of southeastern Colorado, west Texas and New Mexico. While the precipitation will not be enough put a big dent in the drought in those areas it will be some help with perhaps more rain chances coming to those areas in May.
If we are to look over the past year, however, conditions have improved over many areas. Overall, drought conditions have improved over the past year as you can see from a year ago in the graphic below.
Drought conditions have improved over the Central and Northern Plains and Central and Northern Rockies while persisting in the Southern Plains and worsening in California and Desert Southwest.
As we look ahead into the rest of the spring season and into summer, the outlook is for some improvement in drought conditions in the Southern and Central Plains and Southern Rockies. While there is some rain headed to California later this month and into May, there will still be persistent drought in California through the summer.
We continue to expect a weak to moderate El Nino weather pattern developing in the subtropical Pacific this summer into fall. This is good news as it should better chances for precipitation in the most stubborn drought areas this year.