Thursday's weather map
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Across the Corn Belt, mild, dry weather continues. However, winds are increasing in advance of an approaching cold front. Most of the Midwest experienced tranquil weather during the previous 2 weeks, with moderate temperatures and minimal precipitation. Across much of the upper Midwest, snow remains on the ground following late-December storminess.

On the Plains, warnings for high winds are in effect across much of the northern half of the region. On Montana’s high plains, Wednesday’s wind gusts could reach 70 to 90 mph. Given the northern Plains’ topsoil moisture shortages and lack of snow cover, the high-wind event could lead to soil erosion and blowing dust in some winter wheat fields. Farther south, melting snow in parts of Texas is boosting topsoil moisture and benefiting winter wheat.

In the South, wintry precipitation—including freezing rain and sleet—is falling early Wednesday across central sections of Alabama and Mississippi. Cool, dry weather prevails across the remainder of the South. Although temperatures below 32° were noted Wednesday morning into southern Texas, key winter agricultural areas in the lower Rio Grande Valley did not experience a freeze.

In the West, unsettled, windy weather lingers across the Pacific Northwest in the wake of a cold front’s passage. Following a recent heavy-rain event, local river flooding is occurring in western sections of Oregon and Washington. Early Wednesday, heavy snow is falling in parts of the northern Rockies, while unfavorably dry weather persists in drought-affected areas from central and southern California into the Southwest.

A cold front currently advancing across northern portions of the Rockies and High Plains will sweep eastward, reaching the Atlantic Seaboard by week’s end. Windy weather and scattered rain and snow showers will precede, accompany, and trail the front. Some areas, including parts of the Midwest, will experience enough wind-driven snow to result in brief travel disruptions. The air trailing the front will not be severely cold, although late-week temperatures will remain below 32° across the upper Midwest. By early next week, generally cool conditions east of the Rockies should contrast with warm weather in California and the Southwest. Precipitation during next 5 days will be generally light, with drier weather returning across recently soaked sections of the Northwest.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for likelihood of near- or above-normal temperatures nationwide, except for cooler-than-normal conditions in Texas and the Four Corners States. Meanwhile, below-normal precipitation in much of the West and from the southeastern Plains into the Ohio Valley and Northeast should contrast with wetter-than-normal weather across the South, the upper Midwest, and the northwestern half of the Plains.

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Greg Soulje, a professional meteorologist since 1985, offers national agricultural weather forecasts via "This Week in Agribusiness."

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