Midwestern drought expanding, intensifying

Across the Corn Belt, showers are confined to the far upper Midwest, including the eastern Dakotas. Elsewhere, the Midwest’s worst drought since 1988 continues to expand and intensify—and temperatures are returning to near- or above-normal levels—maintaining severe stress on corn and soybeans.

On the Plains, heat is building across the northern half of the region, where Thursday’s highs will approach or reach 100°. On the northern High Plains, the hot weather is promoting winter wheat maturation but stressing spring-sown small grains. Elsewhere, unfavorably dry weather has returned to the southern Plains.

In the South, rain continues to ease drought, although dry weather has returned to the northwestern corner of the region (e.g. Arkansas). Currently, the heaviest rain is falling from the western Gulf Coast region northeastward into central and eastern Tennessee.

In the West, monsoon showers are confined to the Desert Southwest. Hot weather prevails elsewhere, except in the southern Rockies and along the Pacific Coast. In the Northwest, heat is promoting fieldwork, summer crop development, and winter wheat maturation.

A deep pool of atmospheric moisture over the Southeast will continue to focus drought-easing rainfall. Additional rainfall totals of 2 to 4 inches can be expected from the western Gulf Coast region into the Tennessee Valley. However, very little rain is forecast to spread north of the Ohio River, which will leave much of the Corn Belt in desperate need of moisture.

Generally light, late-week showers will fall, however, across the upper Midwest.

Elsewhere, monsoon showers will expand northward from the Desert Southwest, reaching the northern Rockies by week’s end. Although much of the nation will not experience extreme heat during the next several days, temperatures across the Plains and Midwest will be high enough to maintain stress on crops in drought-affected areas.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for near- to above-normal temperatures nationwide, except for cooler-than-normal conditions along the Pacific Coast. Meanwhile, near- to above-normal rainfall across the majority of the U.S. will contrast with drier-than-normal weather in California, the Great Basin, and the northern half of the Plains.

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