Nevada started the year on a warm note with a spread of precipitation ranging from near normal in the north to well below normal in the south, state Climatologist John James said on Friday.
"Drought conditions have changed little since last month, with east central Nevada at the extreme drought level," he said.
The area has received about half its normal precipitation since October and the extreme drought - fourth worst on a five-tier drought scale - exists on either side of U.S. 50 between Great Basin National Park and Austin, including the towns of Ely and Eureka, he said.
Extreme drought also exists in the far northern part of the state along Nevada's border with Idaho and Oregon.
Nearly all the rest of the state remains in a severe drought except for the extreme west along the California line, where a series of storms late last month and in January eased the drought intensity to its lowest level, abnormally dry.
This week's U.S. drought monitor calls for the possibility of above-normal precipitation next week across the Great Basin, which includes Nevada.
It said the drought situation in the northern quarter of the state should improve in the next three months, while it likely will persist or intensify in the south.
"The far western part of Nevada making up the watersheds of the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada should show additional improvement over the next couple of months," James said.
"Temperatures are expected to be below normal through April."
He added that the outlooks are largely based on history, since weather can't be accurately forecast much more than a week ahead.
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