If September seemed a bit hotter than usual, don’t adjust your air conditioner. It was hotter than usual, at least hotter than all but five other months of September have been across the United States.

In fact, September has not been as warm across the United States since 2005.

It was also the 12th wettest September but a few farmers and ranchers in the Southwest would take exception to that. What the Southwest didn’t get, however, other parts of the country got in buckets.

“Drought conditions eased in parts of the Plains and West with record flooding along the Front Range of Colorado,” says a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report.

 

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The hot trend was not confined to theUnited States. Across the globe, NOAA reports, average temperatures across “land and ocean surfaces tied with 2003 as the fourth warmest September since records began in 1880.”

A NOAA weather map shows parts of the Southwest, West, and the Midwest with highest September average temperatures. Much of the eastern half of the country was either at normal or slightly below normal temperatures.

Additional information can be found on the following web sites:

NOAA Climate Portal: http://www.climate.gov/

Conditions in Texas have improved since late summer. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows Texas with 87 percent of the state remaining in some stage of drought. That’s down from 91 percent a week ago and showing a downward trend over the past few weeks as rainfall has fallen over most of the state.

Three months ago, 99 percent of the state was under drought status. Current status is close to last year’s 86 percent at this time.

Reservoir levels are still of concern but recent rainfall, sometimes heavy, has begun to show positive results. “As we enter fall and winter, we’re starting to see a reversal in reservoir trends with a slight uptick in storage  that brings us to just above 60 percent full,” the latest report says. “And for the first time since February, we are not setting new 20-year lows for water in our reservoirs for the time of year.”

The report indicates, however, that reservoirs continue to be low in west, south, central and north-central parts of the state. At 61 percent full, reservoir levels are slightly improved from 60 percent last week but down from 64 percent three months ago, 68 percent a year ago and off from a normal level of 79 percent for this time of year.

Texas AgriLife Extension media specialist Robert Burns, in his latest weekly crop and weather update, says recent rainfall over the past few weeks “greatly alleviated the severity of the drought,” according the U.S. Drought Monitor and reports from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel.

Those reports indicate about 87 percent of the state categorized as abnormally dry to under exceptional drought on Oct. 22. Less than 1 percent was under exceptional drought conditions compared to more than 6 percent three months ago.

Also, extreme drought has dropped from nearly 22 percent to about 4 percent, and severe drought from 39 percent to about 19 percent.

“Though many areas are still suffering, the drought distinctions are important, according to AgriLife Extension agent reports,” Burns writes. Recent rains raised soil-moisture levels, making it feasible for farmers to plant dryland wheat and small grains for grazing. The added moisture also improved the prospects for the 2014 crop year.

 

More from Southwest Farm Press:

Drought status significantly improved from two years ago

Despite recent rainfall, most of Texas remains in drought

More rain spurs wheat planting; slows some cotton harvesting