Across the Corn Belt, bitter cold weather is stressing livestock, although the coldest conditions are west and north of primary winter wheat areas.
On the Plains, warmer weather is returning to the region, with Friday’s highs expected to average 5 to 10° above normal. The recent sharp temperature fluctuations are generally unfavorable for winter wheat, which remains partially exposed to the elements in northern Montana due to a shallow, patchy snow cover.
In the South, cold, dry conditions are settling over the region behind a strong cold front. Recent rain bypassed Florida and the lower Southeast, where drought remains a concern.
In the West, snow over the northern Rockies continues to improve spring run-off prospects, although snow packs remain unfavorably low in the central and southern Rockies. Dry, milder weather elsewhere is favoring fieldwork.
Arctic high pressure will bring below-normal temperatures to the eastern half of the nation. Within this chilly air mass, bitter cold conditions (up to 25° below normal) are expected from the upper Midwest into the Ohio Valley.
A series of weak disturbances will maintain periods of light snow across the northeastern quarter of the nation, while mostly dry, increasingly mild conditions prevail from the Plains to the Pacific Coast.
Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for near- to above-normal temperatures from the Plains to the Atlantic Coast, with the highest likelihood of unseasonable warmth centered over the middle Mississippi Valley. Cooler-than-normal conditions will be limited to California and the Great Basin. Above-normal precipitation is expected in the Southwest and from the southeastern Plains into the Great Lakes, while drier-than-normal weather is confined to the Northwest as well as the southern Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions.