The 6-10 day temperature outlook
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Across the Corn Belt, scattered showers and thunderstorms are occurring in the upper Great Lakes region and west of the Mississippi River. The rain is slowing fieldwork but providing a beneficial boost in topsoil moisture. Meanwhile in the eastern Corn Belt, warm, dry weather favors winter wheat development and early-spring fieldwork such as oat planting.

On the Plains, a low-pressure system crossing the Missouri Valley is producing widespread showers, mainly from Kansas to South Dakota. At a few locations across the central High Plains, including Goodland, Kansas, precipitation has changed to wind-driven snow. Farther north, however, precipitation is mostly bypassing some of the nation’s driest areas in North Dakota and eastern Montana. On April 4, North Dakota led the country with topsoil moisture rated 92% very short to short.

In the South, warm, mostly dry weather prevails in advance of an approaching cold front. However, a few showers and thunderstorms have begun to develop across the mid-South. Corn planting and other spring fieldwork has accelerated amid the early-season warmth, following some wetness-related planting delays. In Arkansas, where topsoil moisture was rated 53% surplus on April 4, only 2% of the rice had been planted on that date, versus 9% on average.

In the West, lingering hot weather is confined to the Desert Southwest. Due to recent warmth, mountain snowpack has mostly melted in some river basins across Arizona and New Mexico, portending water-supply shortages. On April 1, statewide reservoir storage in New Mexico stood at 44% of average for the 1981-2010 reference period.

A storm system over the western Corn Belt will meander toward the upper Great Lakes region by Friday before weakening. A second storm, trailing the first, will traverse the lower and middle Mississippi Valley on April 9-10, followed by a northward turn toward the Great Lakes States. Both weather systems have the potential to spark severe thunderstorms, which may include high winds, hail, and isolated tornadoes. One of the target areas for severe weather could be the lower Mississippi Valley, starting later today. Meanwhile, 5-day rainfall totals should reach 1 to 2 inches in the Midwest and 2 to 4 inches across parts of the South. Elsewhere, dry weather will prevail from California to the southern High Plains, while only light rain and snow showers will occur from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Rockies.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of below-normal temperatures from the Rockies to the Mississippi Valley, while warmer-than-normal weather will prevail in the Pacific Coast States, Great Basin, Desert Southwest, Northeast, and lower Southeast. Meanwhile, below-normal precipitation from the Pacific Coast to the northern Plains and parts of the Midwest should contrast with wetter-than-normal conditions across much of the southern and eastern U.S.

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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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