This chart shows an updated rundown of Water Year precipitation through the first few days of February. The "water year" runs from October 1 through September 30. The view we are using is the percent of normal precipitation for the water year. I find the percent of normal to be the quickest way of determining whether the precipitation taken in for the water year is beneficial or not.
As you can see, there are pockets of the Corn Belt where water year precipitation has been above to well above normal. In the eastern Midwest, for example, we see a lot of green and blue colors. Those colors denote above-normal precipitation for the water year. Soil moisture supplies from southern Illinois through Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin are looking pretty good.
There is a drier area from central Illinois west through most of Missouri and Iowa. Water year precipitation in these states and sections has been less than normal. However, we're not talking about huge deficits--some that are running about 50 percent below normal, but not nearly as dry as we saw in the last couple years.
In the northern areas, we see a mix of conditions in Minnesota, with some dryness in the west, and then well above normal in the Dakotas and Montana. Much of this moisture was from the early-October storm that brought the devastating blizzard to the Black Hills, but there have been some other events as well. There is also an area of northern Colorado with well above normal moisture--October precipitation added to the very heavy rains in September.
Farther south and west, there are pockets of moderately drier trends in Kansas, but the Texas Panhandle is far below normal. That general trend continues all the way to California, where almost the entire state's water year precipitation is running from 50 to 90 percent below normal.
The southeastern U.S. is somewhat dry, but the departures from normal are in the range of 25 percent or so--a deficit that is certainly easier to make up than the chronic dryness we see in the West.
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