Late-season chill continues in parts of the Nation

Across the Corn Belt, National Weather Service Frost and Freeze warnings were in effect early Thursday in parts of the middle Ohio Valley. Farther north, late-season snow continues to accumulate in portions of the upper Great Lakes region. Throughout the Midwest, cool weather is limiting spring fieldwork.

On the Plains, a little light rain is falling across southeastern Colorado and southern Kansas. Elsewhere, cool, dry weather prevails. Freezes were noted Thursday morning as far south as northern Kansas, while temperatures dipped below 20° in parts of the Dakotas.

In the South, National Weather Service Frost and Freeze Warnings were in effect early Thursday across eastern portions of Tennessee and Kentucky, upstate sections of the Carolinas, much of Virginia, and northeastern Georgia. Cold weather continues to threaten a variety of commodities, including fruits, emerged summer crops, and heading winter grains. However, crop development is generally behind schedule due to cooler-than-normal spring weather.

In the West, unusual spring warmth is starting to spread eastward from California and the Great Basin. Thursday’s high temperatures will top 90° in the Desert Southwest. Cool weather lingers, however, in the Rockies and Pacific Northwest. Showers accompany the cool conditions in the Northwest.

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Hot weather on the southwestern Plains

Across the Corn Belt, cool weather has returned to the Great Lakes region, but near- to above-normal temperatures cover the remainder of the Midwest. Rain showers are mostly confined to two small areas: parts of Ohio and the upper Mississippi Valley.

On the Plains, dry weather accompanies unusual warmth. For the third day in a row, temperatures will approach, reach, or exceed 90° across portions of the drought-stricken southern High Plains.

In the South, warm, dry weather continues to promote an acceleration of spring planting and other fieldwork, except in areas—such as parts of central and southern Mississippi and southwestern Alabama—where lowlands are flooded or soils remain too wet.

In the West, warm, dry weather continues, despite an increase in cloudiness in California and the Southwest. This week’s warmth has begun to melt mountain snowpack in the Sierra Nevada and elsewhere in the West.

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Much-needed weekend rainfall on the southern Plains

Across the Corn Belt, rain showers are mostly confined to areas from southern Missouri into the Ohio Valley. Widespread cloudiness and near- to below-normal temperatures cover the remainder of the Midwest.

On the Plains, cool conditions prevail, along with widely scattered showers. On the southern High Plains, weekend rainfall provided much-needed moisture for rangeland, pastures, and winter grains, although neither coverage nor intensity was sufficient to provide widespread drought relief. In Amarillo, Texas, the April 6 rainfall of 0.40 inch exceeded the total (0.30 inch) during the preceding 8 weeks, from February 9 – April 5.

In the South, showers and locally severe thunderstorms stretch from the southern Mid-Atlantic States to the central Gulf Coast. Most Southern fieldwork remains nearly at a standstill due to recent or ongoing rainfall, although cool, dry air is settling across the western Gulf Coast region.

In the West, mostly dry weather accompanies a rapid warming trend. Monday’s high temperatures will top 80° throughout California’s Central Valley. Any lingering precipitation is confined to the central Rockies, where a few snow showers are occurring.

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An active pattern gets underway in the Heartland

On the Plains, unusually cold weather persists from Nebraska northward. Farther south, showers and thunderstorms are developing across the southeastern Plains, but warm, dry, windy conditions persist on the southern High Plains. The southern Plains’ rangeland and pastures, rated 51% very poor to poor in Texas and 43% in Oklahoma—along with jointing to heading winter grains—are in desperate need of moisture.

Across the Corn Belt, warm weather from the Ozark Plateau into the Ohio Valley contrasts with chilly conditions farther north. However, an increase in shower activity accompanies the southern Corn Belt’s warmth.

In the South, warm, mostly dry weather favors an acceleration of previously delayed planting activities. However, showers are developing across the northwestern fringe of the region. On March 30, corn planting was 30% complete in Mississippi (versus the 5-year average of 47%); 28% complete in Texas (vs. 48%) and 18% complete in Arkansas (vs. 30%).

In the West, unsettled, showery weather prevails from California to the Intermountain region, although precipitation is generally light. In California, recent precipitation has not appreciably boosted snowpack but has aided rain-fed rangeland and crops, eased irrigation requirements, and modestly improved reservoir storage.

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A wide-range of weather issues on the Plains

Across the Corn Belt, snow lingers across parts of Minnesota and northern Wisconsin, while a few rain showers are crossing Michigan and Ohio. Midwestern winter wheat appears to be emerging from dormancy in reasonably good shape, with nearly half (47%) of the Illinois crop rated in good to excellent condition on March 30.

On the Plains, snow has ended across the Dakotas but unusually cold conditions persist. In contrast, dry, warm, windy conditions are maintaining stress on the southern High Plains’ rangeland, pastures, and winter grains. On March 30, well over half (59%) of the winter wheat was rated in very poor to poor condition in Texas, along with 44% in Oklahoma and 25% in Kansas.

In the South, scattered showers are maintaining adequate to locally surplus soil moisture reserves. Planting delays are occurring across the South for a variety of crops. In Texas, for example, planting by March 30 had reached 28% of the intended corn acreage, 21% for sorghum, 10% for rice, and 6% for cotton. Respective 5-year planting averages by March 30 for those four crops in Texas are 48, 38, 34, and 7%.

In the West, widely scattered rain and snow showers are providing very limited drought relief in California and the Great Basin. Despite recent precipitation, the average water content of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snowpack stands at 8 inches, less than 30% of average for the date.

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Colder weather settles into the Heartland

On the Plains, cold weather prevails, except for some lingering warmth in Texas. Patches of light snow are affecting the northern and central Plains, while a few rain showers are developing in central Texas.

In the Corn Belt, cold weather prevails in the wake of Thursday’s widespread precipitation. Thursday’s severe weather reports—large hail and a few tornadoes—were mostly concentrated in Missouri. Currently, rain lingers in parts of the Great Lakes region, mainly in Michigan.

In the South, showers and locally severe thunderstorms are sweeping across areas east of the Mississippi River. Most fieldwork activities remain behind schedule in much of the South due to cool, wet soils.

In the West, unsettled, showery weather continues in the Pacific Northwest. In western Washington, month-to-date precipitation has totaled 8 to 12 inches or more (200 to 250 percent of normal) at locations such as Seattle and Hoquiam. Farther south, light precipitation in northern California is aiding rain-fed crops and temporarily easing irrigation demands, but having little effect on bleak water-supply outlooks.

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Drought improvement forecast for parts of the Plains, Corn Belt

Long-term drought is predicted to continue across California, interior Oregon, the Great Basin, the Desert Southwest, the southern Rockies, and the southern High Plains, as the traditional winter wet season draws to a close in the next few weeks. Mountain snow packs are running well below-average across much of this region. The Pacific Northwest still has a while yet before entering their climatological dry season, so there are opportunities for drought improvement and removal there.

Across the central portion of the contiguous United States, drought improvement and/or removal is anticipated over the lower central and southern Great Plains and Upper and Middle Mississippi Valley.

However, farther west across the High Plains, the odds for improvement or removal are not as good, prompting persistence of drought conditions.

Seasonal Drought Outlook through June, 2014

Still winter-like across much of the Heartland

Across the Corn Belt, snow remains on the ground in many areas from Minnesota to Michigan. In Michigan, Lansing has had at least an inch of snow on the ground for 106 consecutive days, breaking a record set in 1962-63. Cold weather prevails throughout the Midwest, even in areas with no remaining snow cover. Some patches of light snow are overspreading the western Corn Belt.

On the Plains, a few snow flurries are confined to the northern half of the region. However, cold weather covers all of the nation’s mid-section. Monday morning’s temperatures fell to near 10° across portions of the northern Plains.

In the South, Freeze Warnings were in effect early Monday in parts of the southern Appalachians. Cool, dry weather covers the remainder of the South, except for some rain showers along the Gulf Coast. Cool, wet soils continue to limit spring fieldwork in many areas.

In the West, unusually warm weather continues to prematurely melt mountain snow. The average water content of the Sierra Nevada snowpack stands at 7 inches, less than 25% of the late-March normal.

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A wide-range of weather across the Heartland

Across the Corn Belt, snow is returning to parts of Minnesota and eastern North Dakota. A little bit of snow is also falling in Ohio. Most of the remainder of the Midwest is getting a taste of spring, with temperatures expected to reach 70° later Friday in the middle Mississippi Valley.

On the Plains, cold, windy weather is returning to Montana and the Dakotas, accompanied by some light snow. Farther south, unfavorably dry conditions persist on the southern High Plains, despite an increase in cloudiness. In addition, warmth lingers for a final day from Texas to eastern Kansas.

In the South, warm, dry weather favors some spring fieldwork, at least where soils are warm and dry enough. Soil temperatures are high enough to support corn development only across the Deep South, where Georgia’s crop was 9% planted by March 16.

In the West, dry weather prevails. However, cool conditions in the Northwest contrast with warm weather from California to the southern Rockies. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which currently contains just 7 inches of water (25% of the late-March normal), has begun to melt.

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Drought concerns increasing on the southern Plains

Across the Corn Belt, light snow is overspreading the far upper Midwest in conjunction with an approaching storm. In contrast, the southern Corn Belt is experiencing a brief period of mild weather.

On the Plains, much cooler air is arriving in the wake of a cold front’s passage, while snow is falling in western Nebraska and environs. Windy weather continues to raise dust across portions of the southern Plains, where worsening drought is adversely affecting rangeland, pastures, and winter wheat. On March 16, more than half of Texas’ winter wheat (52%) and rangeland/pastures (53%) were rated in very poor to poor condition.

In the South, chilly conditions—accompanied by some rain and freezing rain—linger east of the Appalachians, but mild weather is returning farther west. Overnight ice accumulations occurred in parts of North Carolina and Virginia.

In the West, precipitation is largely confined to the Pacific Northwest and the eastern slopes of the northern Rockies. Cooler weather prevails, except for lingering warmth in California, where the average water content of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snowpack remains at 8 inches, just 28% of the mid-March average.

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