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Fox News Weather Center

Flooding Rain Nearly Ends Drought in Plains

Less than a year ago, the southern Plains was faced with an extreme drought with the worst conditions reaching from central Texas through the Oklahoma Panhandle.

This has changed significantly for the better, particularly over the past several weeks as round after round of rain and thunderstorms have soaked the region.

May has been an especially wet month as record rain fall has caused severe flooding and has claimed the lives of over a dozen people.

"On the positive side of all of the flooding, the record-breaking rainfall amounts have acted to all but erase the drought across the Plains," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Becky Elliott.

The substantial amount of rain that has fallen over the southern Plains in the past several weeks has helped reservoirs and rivers return to near-normal levels.

This is great news for farmers and ranchers across the region that depend heavily on water for their crops and livestock.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, last year at this time, more than 71 percent of Texas was classified as being in a moderate drought and nearly 50 percent of the state was in a severe drought.

Since then, these numbers have plummeted, with the severe drought conditions being completely eliminated and only 5 percent of Texas remaining in a moderate drought.

Similar numbers can be used to describe the significant decrease in drought conditions in Oklahoma as well.

Additional rounds of rain through the weekend and into the upcoming week may completely eliminate all of the drought conditions in this portion of the country.

The Palmer Index is another tool that meteorologists use to help analyze drought conditions.

This index helps to describe the relative dryness affecting water sensitive economies. In some cases, this can be more useful than by just looking at the U.S. Drought Monitor.

According to the latest Palmer Index report from the Climate Prediction Center, the southern Plains is in a very moist spell.

This means that there is more water in the soil than there normally is.

Rain and thunderstorms are forecast to continue over the southern Plains heading into the start of June; however, the frequency and intensity of the rain are expected to decrease.

According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, "While the impact from El Nino will continue, the jet stream will weaken and shift, causing the majority of showers and thunderstorms to shift northward and eastward, away from much of Texas and the southern Plains."

This wet start to summer in the southern Plains was expected by AccuWeather Meteorologists and was highlighted in the 2015 Summer Outlook.

These wetter conditions can also impact temperatures across the region throughout the summer.

"It's not as dry going into this summer season across the entire southern Plains, and I think that will have an impact on how high and how consistently we'll hit above 90 this year," said AccuWeather Expert Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok.

Cities such as Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Little Rock, Arkansas, may end up with fewer 90- and 100-degree days than they have had in recent years.