5-day precipitation forecast
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Across the Corn Belt, cold, breezy weather prevails. In addition, snow showers are occurring downwind of the Great Lakes, especially across Michigan. Friday morning’s low temperatures fell below 0° in parts of the upper Midwest, including large sections of Minnesota.

On the Plains, patchy snow is falling across the northern half of the region, where cooler weather prevails. Despite Friday’s flurries and snow showers, most of the Plains’ winter wheat remains devoid of a protective snow cover. During the first 3 weeks of January, temperatures averaged 10 to 20° above normal across much of Montana and the Dakotas.

In the South, a broad area of rain stretches from the central Gulf Coast to the southern Atlantic States, excluding Florida’s peninsula. Parts of Florida’s peninsula have begun to dry out, with statewide topsoil moisture—as reported by USDA/NASS—rated 28% very short to short on January 17. On the same date, Florida’s pastures were rated 21% very poor to poor, in part due to seasonal decline related to “short days and [periods of] cold weather.”

In the West, a storm system drifting southward across coastal northern California is resulting in unsettled weather (rain and snow showers) in parts of California, Oregon, the northern Great Basin, and the northern Intermountain West. Chilly weather accompanies the Western storm, helping to lower snow levels to around 4,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada. Prior to the recent onset of stormy weather, the average water equivalency of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snowpack stood at 6 inches—just 40% of normal for this time of year.

A storm system sliding across the Southeast will spark rain during Friday from the central Gulf Coast into southern Georgia and northern Florida. Meanwhile, a new Western storm will produce much-needed precipitation during the next couple of days in California, the Great Basin, and the Southwest. That system will also traverse the South (early next week), with heavy rain possible in the Tennessee Valley and environs. In addition, wintry precipitation (snow, sleet, and freezing rain) may occur early next week from the central Plains to the mid-Atlantic. Elsewhere, additional storminess will arrive along the West Coast during the first half of next week, with heavy precipitation in the Pacific Coast States likely leading to drought relief but possibly triggering flash flooding, especially in areas where last year’s wildfires left burn scars and destabilized hillsides.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of below-normal temperatures in the West and the middle and northern Atlantic States, while warmer-than-normal weather should cover much of the Plains, South, and upper Midwest. Meanwhile, near- or above-normal precipitation across much of the country, including drought-stricken areas of the West, should contrast with drier-than-normal conditions across southern Florida, the High Plains, and the Northeast.

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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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