Saturday's weather map
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Across the Corn Belt, mostly cloudy conditions accompany near- or below-normal temperatures. Rain has temporarily ended across the eastern Corn Belt, but showers are quickly returning from the Mississippi Valley westward. Following a brief period earlier this week when some planting occurred, fieldwork has been slowed or halted by cool, damp weather. 

On the Plains, scattered to widespread showers and thunderstorms stretch from Montana and the Dakotas to Oklahoma. The rain is slowing spring fieldwork but generally benefiting winter wheat, rangeland and pastures, and spring-sown crops. Meanwhile, summer-like heat is developing across the southern half of Texas, where today’s high temperatures will range from 90 to 105º. 

In the South, strong to locally severe thunderstorms are occurring early Friday across Florida’s peninsula. Florida’s rain is easing drought that has developed in recent weeks; statewide, topsoil moisture was rated 45% very short to short on April 19. Rain has ended in most other areas of the South, except for some lingering showers in Virginia and environs. 

In the West, a spring heatwave is underway across California and the Desert Southwest. In coastal southern California, where Friday’s high temperatures will approach 100º, gusty winds accompany the early-season heat. Meanwhile in the Northwest, mostly dry weather accompanies a gradual warming trend. On April 19, Washington led the nation—among major production states—in planting progress for spring wheat (78% complete) and barley (70%). 

A procession of fast-moving weather systems will maintain periods of unsettled, showery conditions during the next several days across large sections of the country. The heaviest rain, locally 1 to 3 inches, should fall from the mid-South into the Northeast, resulting in fieldwork delays and causing local flooding in agricultural regions such as the northern Mississippi Delta and the southern and eastern Corn Belt. Meanwhile, showers and thunderstorms will linger into the weekend across Florida’s peninsula. In contrast, dry weather will accompany early-season heat from California to the Rio Grande Valley. Farther north, however, occasional showers will continue in the Northwest. By early next week, unusual warmth will spread as far east as the Plains, while chilly conditions will linger across the eastern one-third of the U.S. 

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for near- or below-normal temperatures in most areas from the Mississippi River eastward, while warmer-than-normal weather will prevail in peninsular Florida and from the Pacific Coast to the Plains. Meanwhile, near- or below-normal precipitation across most of the western and central U.S. should contrast with wetter-than-normal weather in much of the East.

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