Across the Corn Belt, bitter cold weather in western and northern portions of the region is stressing livestock, although the coldest conditions are west and north of primary winter wheat areas.
On the Plains, light snow is accompanying an arctic air mass over northern portions of the region, where Thursday’s highs will average 30 to 40°F below normal. A sufficient snowpack is affording winter wheat protection from the elements, although key crop areas in northern Montana remain partially exposed. In contrast, warmer-than-normal conditions are already returning to southern portions of the region.
In the South, drier weather is returning to the Southeast following Wednesday’s heavy rain and strong to severe thunderstorms. Sunny skies and above-normal temperatures prevail elsewhere.
In the West, snow continues to improve spring runoff prospects across the northern and central Rockies. Rain and high-elevation snow are also falling in the Northwest, although warmer weather has raised snow levels.
For the remainder of Thursday, a strong cold front will continue moving off the East Coast, although rain will linger over parts of the Northeast. Behind the front, generally dry but cold weather will prevail across the central and eastern U.S. However, snow showers will develop downwind of the Great Lakes, while a series of weak disturbances generate occasional light snow from the upper Midwest into the Corn Belt and Mid-Atlantic.
Meanwhile, an arctic air mass will push steadily east from the northern Plains, bringing frigid conditions (20-30°F below normal) to the Midwest. Temperatures on the Plains will rapidly modify, however, with warmer-than-normal conditions returning to the region by week’s end.
Out west, drier, somewhat milder conditions will prevail, although cold air will remain trapped in valley locations.
Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for near- to above-normal temperatures across much of the nation, with the highest likelihood of unseasonable warmth centered over the Great Plains. Cooler-than-normal conditions will be limited to New England and the central Pacific Coast. Above-normal precipitation is expected in the Southwest and from the Corn Belt into New England, while drier-than-normal weather is confined to the southern Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions.