The NWS Storm Prediction Center is forecasting a Slight Risk of severe thunderstorms through Monday for parts of the Southeast and lower mid-Atlantic. Hail and damaging winds will be the primary threats. In addition, heavy rain could lead to flooding concerns across the central Gulf Coast into the mid-South.
The NWS Storm Prediction Center is forecasting a risk of severe thunderstorms Tuesday for parts of the central and southern Plains, mainly across portions of northwest Texas during the mid-afternoon and early evening hours and across portions of eastern Kansas and western Missouri later into the overnight hours.
Much needed precipitation brought limited drought relief to parts of the Northwest, the Great Basin, and the northern Intermountain West, but drought continued to expand and intensify across parts of California, the desert Southwest and the southern Rockies. Outside of spotty precipitation over southern and western Texas, drought also expanded across much of the central and southern Plains, and short term drought developed along the western GulfCoast. Widespread precipitation brought drought relief to the eastern U.S. Drought persistence and expansion are anticipated for California, the Southwest, and the southern Plains due to dry initial conditions heading into the climatologically drier Spring season. CPC 1-Month and 3-Month outlooks tilt the odds towards below-median precipitation over parts of the Southwest and California as well. In contrast, short range forecasts for heavy precipitation increase prospects for additional drought relief across the Pacific Northwest and the northern Rockies, although anticipated warmer than normal temperatures may limit effective snow pack building for late spring water resources. Drought improvement or removal is forecast for the central Plains and the middle and upper MississippiValley, where climatological precipitation increases substantially during April and May. While locally heavy precipitation is forecast in the short term for parts of the central and western Gulf Coast, which would ease short term drought conditions, the CPC seasonal outlook indicates enhanced chances of below-median rainfall. With 90-day precipitation totals generally below 75 percent of normal, it is possible for short term drought reductions to be offset by redevelopment later in the Spring.
For Friday, no organized areas of severe thunderstorms are expected across the Nation.
This weekend, however, a slight risk of severe thunderstorms is expected on the far southeastern Plains and along the immediate Gulf Coast.
Across the Corn Belt, frigid conditions persist, with Tuesday morning’s temperatures falling below 0° in nearly all locations. A deep snow cover and snow drifts continue to complicate travel in the central and eastern Corn Belt, where current snow depths include 13 inches in Rockford, Illinois, and Indianapolis, Indiana.
On the Plains, bitterly cold weather has begun to ease, except in the eastern Dakotas. At the height of the cold wave, snow helped to insulate winter wheat in many areas, although there was a notable gap in coverage across much of Nebraska, south-central and southwestern South Dakota, and north-central Kansas. On January 6, low temperatures in those areas with little or no snow cover generally ranged from -5 to -15°.
In the South, winter agricultural areas across Deep South Texas and Florida’s peninsula escaped without a major freeze Tuesday morning, although Wind Chill Advisories have been posted. Meanwhile, Hard Freeze Warnings were in effect early Tuesday along the Gulf Coast from eastern Texas to Florida’s panhandle. In southern Louisiana, where temperatures plunged to near 20°, most of last year’s sugarcane has already been harvested.
In the West, mild, mostly dry weather prevails, despite an increase in cloudiness. A few rain and snow showers are overspreading the Pacific Northwest. In Arizona, the cotton harvest was 99% complete by January 5, ahead of the 5-year average of 95%. Meanwhile, the average water content of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snow pack stands at 2 inches, less than 20% of the early-January normal.
Dangerously cold weather from the Plains to the East Coast will lose its punch as the week progresses.
The remainder of Monday will feature the Midwest’s harshest cold, followed on Tuesday by the East’s lowest temperatures. Tuesday, sub-zero temperatures can be expected again as far south as the Ozark Plateau, with readings below 0° also likely in the Appalachians. Frigid weather will persist through mid-week in the upper Midwest, where readings below -30° will linger through Wednesday. Rapid warming will occur during the second half of the week, with above-normal temperatures expected in the eastern half of the U.S. by week’s end. Significant precipitation will be scarce, except in the Northeast during the rest of Monday and Northwest, starting Tuesday.
Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for near- to above-normal temperatures nationwide, with the greatest likelihood of warm weather in the eastern U.S. Meanwhile, above-normal precipitation from the Mississippi Valley eastward and across the nation’s northern tier will contrast with drier-than-normal weather from California to the central and southern High Plains.
Across the Corn Belt, a life-threatening cold outbreak is underway. Monday morning’s low temperatures generally ranged from -30° in the far upper Midwest to near 0° in the Ohio Valley. Gusty winds accompany the bitter cold, resulting in dangerously low wind chill temperatures. In the eastern Corn Belt, a deep snow cover is insulating winter wheat, but blowing and drifting snow is stressing livestock and hampering travel.
On the Plains, very cold weather prevails, with sub-zero temperatures noted from Kansas northward. The frigid, breezy conditions are stressing livestock and resulting in dangerously low wind chill temperatures. Snow is providing some protection for winter wheat on the northern and central Plains, although coverage is patchy. Current snow depths include 4 inches in Great Falls, Montana, and 2 inches in Wichita, Kansas.
In the South, an Arctic cold front is crossing the Atlantic Coast States, accompanied by a few rain showers. In the front’s wake, hard freeze warnings are in effect this morning from eastern Texas into the central Gulf Coast region. However, temperatures remain above freezing in Deep South Texas and across Florida’s peninsula.
In the West, mild weather in California contrasts with near- to below-normal temperatures farther inland. Dry weather prevails throughout the West, increasing concerns about summer water supplies in areas—such as California and the Great Basin—moving deeper into a third consecutive year of drought.
During the past month, drought conditions improved across parts of the Intermountain West, Rockies, southern Plains, lower Mississippi Valley, upper Midwest, mid-Atlantic, and Northeast. In most of these areas, the trend toward improvement is not expected to continue through the first 3 months of 2014, and in fact some drought development (or re-development) is anticipated in portions of the central and southern Rockies and the Southwest. Drought is expected to be a continuing or worsening concern along the West Coast and in the Southeast.
A large storm system in the 7 days before Christmas should bring 1 to several inches of precipitation from the southern High Plains northeastward through parts of the Midwest and the Northeast, setting the stage for drought improvement or removal in the scattered areas of drought across eastern Texas, eastern Missouri, central Illinois, and the Northeast. In addition to effects from this system, surface moisture – whether in soils and water sources or locked up in snowpack – usually increases in these regions during January – March.
Improvement is also expected in central Idaho and adjacent areas, where the January outlook favors above-normal precipitation after relatively dry weather through the end of December. Elsewhere, the trend toward decreasing drought should continue in Alaska, and with odds significantly favoring above-normal rainfall in Hawaii for January and January – March, continued slow improvement is anticipated there.
In contrast, below-normal precipitation seems more likely for January – March in the Southeast and much of the southwestern quarter of the country. Drought is expected to persist where it exists in these regions, and expand to cover areas currently exhibiting some degree of dryness (generally areas shown as abnormally dry, or D0, in the Drought Monitor). This includes Florida and a swath from the Carolinas to the central Gulf Coast in the Southeast, and most areas not already experiencing drought from Colorado and eastern Utah southward through the desert Southwest and southern Rockies, along with westernmost Texas.
California and adjacent areas in the Far West will be closely monitored this period. Patches of above-normal precipitation have been analyzed in southeastern California, but most of the state received less than half of normal precipitation during the last half of 2013, as did parts of adjacent Oregon and Nevada. From southern sections of California’s central valley to the coastal strip between San Francisco and Los Angeles, many locations recorded less than 25% of normal precipitation since late June. Both the January and January – March precipitation outlooks indicate enhanced chances for below-normal precipitation across much of the state and neighboring areas, thus drought is expected to persist or intensify.
A storm system off the Northeast Coast will bring locally heavy snow to parts of New England through early Monday. Meanwhile, in the central U.S., temperatures will continue to be below normal as an arctic air mass remains in place. Gusty winds in this region will contribute to extremely cold wind chills.
On Friday, temperatures will be 15 to 20 degrees BELOW average for the Northern and Central Plains and 15 to 20 degrees ABOVE average for parts of the Lower and Middle Mississippi Valley into parts of the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys. But hang on; big changes are on the way this weekend!