A big warm-up on the Plains heading east...

Across the Corn Belt, mild, mostly dry weather prevails. The northern Corn Belt’s substantial snow cover continues to erode, but a large amount of moisture remains locked into place. Ice-jam flooding remains a threat in several Midwestern river basins.

On the Plains, less than one week after an all-time state record low temperature of -31°F was established in Oklahoma, Wednesday’s high temperatures will climb well above 70° across much of the south-central U.S. for the second consecutive day. On the central and southern Plains, expanding drought and rapid temperature fluctuations are placing both winter wheat and livestock under increasing levels of stress.

In the South, warm, dry weather favors early-spring fieldwork and is encouraging some growth of pastures and winter grains.

In the West, California’s first significant winter storm since late December is underway. Some of the heaviest precipitation is falling in key watershed areas of the Sierra Nevada. Elsewhere, showery weather continues in the Northwest, while cooler air is spreading across the Desert Southwest.

For the remainder of the week, an active weather pattern will continue to evolve across the West.  Some of the heaviest precipitation will fall in northern California, where 5-day totals could exceed 5 inches.  Toward week’s end, heavy precipitation will also arrive in southern California.

Meanwhile, generally warm weather will prevail during the next few days across the Plains, Midwest, South, and East. Readings of 80° or higher can be expected in parts of the south-central U.S. through Thursday.

Late in the week, however, markedly colder air will arrive across the nation’s northern tier.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook for February 21-25 calls for near- to below-normal temperatures and near- to above-normal precipitation across the majority of the U.S. Warmer- and drier-than-normal conditions will be confined to portions of the South. 

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