A welcome pattern shift underway

A welcome pattern shift underway

Across the Corn Belt, cold weather and low soil temperatures continue to limit spring planting activities. In addition, snow remains on the ground across large sections of the northern Corn Belt.

On the Plains, cloudiness is increasing in advance of an approaching storm system. Any rain that developed later Friday on the southern High Plains may be too late for some drought-damaged wheat but should aid wildfire containment efforts and slightly improve topsoil moisture in preparation for spring planting.

In the South, dry weather favors fieldwork in much of the region, but producers across the interior Southeast continue to monitor winter wheat, blooming fruits, and emerged summer crops for signs of freeze injury.

In the West, scattered rain and snow showers in the Four Corners States are providing limited drought relief. In Arizona, rangeland and pastures were rated 86% very poor to poor on April 15, compared to the 5-year average of 30%. In addition, statewide reservoir storage is significantly below average in Arizona and New Mexico, with little snowpack left to provide spring and summer runoff.

A storm system emerging from the Southwest will drift eastward, reaching the Southeast early next week. Highly beneficial rain developed later Friday across the drought-affected central and southern High Plains, with totals of 0.5 to 1.5 inches some areas; however, some locales may largely miss out on the rainfall, and a more widespread soaking is sorely needed. Showers will become heavier farther east, accompanied by locally severe thunderstorms. Storm-total rainfall could reach 2 to 4 inches or more in parts of the Southeast. In the West, mostly dry weather will accompany a warming trend, following the storm system’s departure. The Midwest will also experience several days of mostly dry weather, although spring fieldwork delays will persist in some areas until snow melts and soils warm up.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of near- to below-normal temperatures across the eastern half of the U.S., except in New England, while warmer-than-normal weather will prevail in the West. Meanwhile, near- to above-normal precipitation across most of the country, including the southern High Plains, should contrast with drier-than-normal conditions in the lower Southeast and Pacific Northwest.

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