The incredible drought that has been gripping Texas for more than a year and led to disastrous wildfires, crop losses and extreme water shortages is fortunately showing signs of improvement.
Rounds of locally heavy rain over the past few weeks have been the catalyst.
While the entire state continues to experience abnormally dry or drought conditions, the severity of the drought is decreasing.
The latest release from the U.S. Drought Monitor, valid Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011, shows a reduction in extreme drought conditions from about 83 percent of the state last week to 77 percent this week.
Exceptional drought conditions, the worst level on the U.S. Drought Monitor's scale, have also decreased from about 53 percent of the state last week to 43 percent this week.
A comparison of drought conditions across Texas on Sept. 13, 2011 (left) and Dec. 6, 2011 (right) from the U.S. Drought Monitor. The percentage of the state in different levels of drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor scale are given on the bottom of the image. Yellow = ABNORMALLY DRY, Tan = MODERATE, Orange = SEVERE, Red = EXTREME, Dark Red = EXCEPTIONAL (worst on the scale).
Less than three months ago, the percentage of Texas, the largest state in the contiguous U.S., in an exceptional drought was up to a staggering 88 percent. Recent rains have helped to cut that percentage in half.
While the improvement is significant, it is going to take quite a bit more rain on a semi-regular basis to continue the progress. The state is still a long way from eradicating the drought completely.
Unfortunately, the AccuWeather.com 2011-2012 Winter Forecast does not bode well for a large portion of Texas. Drier-than-normal conditions are predicted to persist in western and southern parts of the state.
Northern and eastern Texas are expected to fare a bit better with precipitation being closer to normal.
Damaging thunderstorms will threaten North Carolina to the southeast Pennsylvania on Wednesday.
Temperatures will plummet by as much as 40 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 24 hours along the I-95 corridor from New York City and Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.
A major winter storm will lash Illinois to Maine. It will unfold into a blizzard across portions of New England, unleashing more than a foot of snow.
With winter coming to a close, numerous cars are off the roadways and in body shops, as vehicles take a hit from the season's potholes and salt corrosion.
A storm system will move east through the Rockies and spread snow into the Plains during the day on Tuesday.
Rain is in the forecast leading up to the start of the Formula 1 Season in Melbourne this weekend.
Heavy rain and high wind for much of the state. 5.24" of rain at Melbourne; a 56 mph wind gust at St. Augustine; rain mixed with sleet at Tampa.
Record heavy snowfall: "one of the most paralyzing snowstorms in decades." Inwood had 48" on the ground by end of the storm.
New England/ New York (1959)
20" of snow; blizzard conditions, transportation paralyzed.