Weather

Beneficial rains for parts of the upper Midwest

Across the Corn Belt, a cold front stretching southwestward from Michigan is sparking showers. Cool, dry weather prevails in the upper Midwest, while warm, humid conditions cover the southern and eastern Corn Belt. Midwestern crops are entering reproduction, with more than one-third of the soybeans blooming by July 4 in Nebraska (46%), Iowa (39%), and Minnesota (38%). On the same date, more than one-tenth of the corn was silking in Missouri (15%) and Illinois (14%).

On the Plains, a cold front separates cool, dry air to the north from warm, humid conditions farther south. The winter wheat harvest is nearing completion across the southern Plains and just getting underway on the northern Plains. Meanwhile, many crops across the northern Plains remain significantly stressed by drought. On July 4 in South Dakota, for example, very poor to poor ratings were noted for 26% of the corn, 29% of the soybeans, 30% of the sorghum, 44% of the oats, 56% of the winter wheat, 61% of the spring wheat, and 74% of the rangeland and pastures.

In the South, Tropical Storm Elsa is on the verge of moving ashore in northern Florida. Early Wednesday morning, Elsa was centered 35 miles west of Cedar Key, Florida, moving northward at 14 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph. To this point, Florida has escaped with relatively minor storm impacts, including locally heavy downpours, tropical storm-force wind gusts (39 mph or greater), and a modest storm surge. Meanwhile, heavy rain is also falling along and near the Texas coast, while the remainder of the region is experiencing warm, humid weather and scattered showers.

In the West, hot, mostly dry weather prevails. Although a few thunderstorms dot the interior Northwest, some are producing lightning without rain, leading to an enhanced risk of wildfire ignition. On July 4, Washington led the U.S. in rangeland and pastures rated in very poor to poor condition (84%), followed by Arizona (83%).  

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