Winter storm potential ahead this weekend
On the Plains, bitterly cold air is returning to Nebraska, Montana, and the Dakotas, preceded and accompanied by some light snow. Wednesday’s temperatures plunged below -20° in northern Montana, maintaining stress on livestock. In stark contrast, warm, windy weather prevails across the southern half of the Plains.
Across the Corn Belt, cold, breezy conditions and snow showers are returning to the upper Midwest, where livestock have endured several weeks of wet or snowy weather, along with occasional Arctic outbreaks. Mild weather prevails across the remainder of the Corn Belt in advance of a cold front.
In the South, sudden warmth has replaced a sharp cold snap. Producers in Deep South Texas and southern Louisiana continue to monitor temperature-sensitive crops in the wake of the January 7-8 freezes.
In the West, a potent storm has moved inland and is currently centered over the northern Intermountain West, resulting in widespread snow and wind. Very cold air remains entrenched across the Northwest, while warm, windy weather covers the Southwest.
The focus for extreme weather will shift from the western U.S. to the southern Plains and environs. The last in a series of Pacific storms will cross California on Thursday, although this system will not produce as much precipitation in the West as previous storms. Meanwhile, a new surge of cold air will overspread the Plains, Midwest, and West, setting the stage for a potential major ice storm. By Friday, significant ice and sleet accumulations could begin to occur from parts of Oklahoma into the middle Mississippi Valley. During the weekend, freezing rain may reach northeastward into the northern Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic States, while precipitation rates should intensify across the southern Plains—increasing the potential for major icing if cold air remains trapped near ground level. Five-day precipitation totals could reach 2 to 4 inches or more on the southern Plains and 1 to 2 inches in the Ohio Valley.
Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for near- to above-normal temperatures and precipitation nearly nationwide. The greatest likelihood of warmth will cover the eastern one-third of the U.S., while drier-than-normal conditions will be confined to the northern Plains.