Rather cold, largely dry weather covers the Heartland

Across the Corn Belt, snow showers are occurring downwind of the Great Lakes.  Elsewhere in the Midwest, cold, dry weather prevails.  In many areas, gusty winds are resulting in dangerously low wind-chill temperatures.  Actual air temperatures plunged below 0°F Friday morning throughout the upper Midwest, with some readings below -20°F in the upper Great Lakes region.  Despite the recent turn toward cold weather, wheat continues to overwinter well, with more than two-thirds of the crop rated in good to excellent condition near the end of January in Illinois (69%) and Missouri (68%).

On the Plains, tranquil weather accompanies a warming trend.  In fact, temperatures have returned to above-normal levels on the High Plains.  Chilly conditions linger farther east, with sub-0°F temperatures reported Friday morning in the eastern Dakotas and northeastern Nebraska.  In ice-affected areas of central Texas and environs, normalcy is slowly returning, although patchy freezing fog early Friday has resulted in some icy patches on exposed surfaces such as bridges.

In the South, rain lingers in the southern Atlantic region, excluding southern Florida.  Cool, dry weather covers the remainder of the region.  In some areas, winter cold snaps have degraded pasture conditions.  Across Florida’s peninsula, dry conditions have also contributed to poor pasture conditions; statewide, Florida’s pastures were rated 41% very poor to poor on January 29.

In the West, precipitation is overspreading portions of northern California and the Pacific Northwest.  In addition, Western temperatures have rebounded at least to near-normal levels, except for some lingering cold pockets across the Intermountain region.  With about 2 months remaining in the Western winter wet season, prospects for spring and summer runoff are favorable in parts of the Southwest and from California to the western slopes of the central Rockies.

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