A Look at the Tropical Atlantic
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Across the Corn Belt, frost was noted Monday morning in portions of the upper Great Lakes region, well north of major corn and soybean production areas. Cool, dry weather covers the remainder of the Corn Belt, allowing corn and soybeans to approach maturity. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, drought covers about 14% of the Midwest but 72% of Iowa.

On the Plains, dry weather favors fieldwork and summer crop maturation. Cool weather lingers on the southern Plains, but a surge of warmth across the northern Plains is nearly ideal for final small grain harvest efforts and early-season winter wheat planting. On September 6, Colorado led the Plains with 17% of its intended winter wheat acreage planted.

In the South, Tropical Storm Sally is gaining strength over the northern Gulf of Mexico and should become a hurricane before making landfall. Hurricane Warnings have been issued along the Gulf Coast from Morgan City, Louisiana, to the Mississippi-Alabama border, including New Orleans. Currently, warm, humid weather prevails across the South. Locally heavy showers are occurring in southern Texas and along Florida’s gulf coast.

In the West, winds are increasing in advance of a cold front across parts of northern and central California, the Great Basin, and the interior Northwest. As a result, any new or existing wildfires could rapidly spread. Currently, nearly 100 wildfires are active across the West, with the greatest concentration of blazes and most urgent air-quality concerns in portions of the Pacific Coast States. California’s largest wildfire on record, the 877,000-acre August Complex, is one of five active fires in the state that has consumed at least 200,000 acres of vegetation. In addition, there are eight active wildfires in Oregon and Washington that have charred more than 100,000 acres.

Sally is forecast to reach the central Gulf Coast region of the U.S. on Tuesday as a category 1 hurricane with sustained winds near 85 mph. Potential hazards along and near Sally’s path include torrential rainfall (8 to 16 inches, with isolated amounts up to 24 inches), a dangerous storm surge (as much as 7 to 11 feet from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs, Mississippi), wind damage consistent with a low-end hurricane, and isolated tornadoes. Elsewhere, showers will begin to spread inland across the Pacific Northwest as the week progresses, but mostly dry weather will cover the remainder of the West, as well as large sections of the Plains and Midwest. Summer-like warmth will prevail in much of the West, but a surge of cool air will engulf the Midwest and East later in the week.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of cooler-than-normal conditions in most areas along and east of a line from eastern Texas to Lake Michigan, while near- or above-normal temperatures will dominate the western and central U.S. Meanwhile, wetter-than-normal weather across portions of the northern Plains and upper Midwest should contrast with near- or below-normal precipitation across the remainder of the country.

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