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Across the Corn Belt, cold, dry weather prevails across the eastern half of the region, aside from lingering snow showers downwind of the Great Lakes. Meanwhile, mild but breezy weather has developed west of the Mississippi River. Much of the Midwest, particularly from Iowa to Ohio, is preparing for a winter storm that will arrive on Saturday.

On the Plains, dry weather accompanies a warming trend. Substantial snow remains on the ground across the central Plains, following recent storminess, but no snow cover exists across winter wheat production areas of the southern Plains and northern High Plains. On January 24, prior to the central Plains’ latest snowfall, USDA/NASS rated topsoil moisture as 79% very short to short in Colorado, along with 60% in Nebraska and 55% in Kansas.

In the South, cool, dry weather prevails. Light freezes occurred Friday morning as far south as northern Florida—well north of the state’s citrus and winter vegetables. Patchy snow remains on the ground across the northern tier of the region, from the Ozark Plateau to the mid-Atlantic, following a mid-week storm. Official January 27-28 snowfall totals included 3.5 inches in Lexington, Kentucky, and 3.1 inches in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

In the West, a long-duration winter storm near the Pacific Coast has finally begun to shift inland. However, significant precipitation is still falling across central and southern California and the Great Basin. Rain and snow showers are also overspreading the northern Rockies, Intermountain West, and Southwest. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 80% of the western U.S. was experiencing drought on January 26, prior to the latest storm’s arrival.

The sprawling storm system that has been affecting the West will move eastward, crossing the central and southern Plains on Saturday and the Ohio Valley on Sunday. Subsequently, the system should stall and intensify near the middle Atlantic Seaboard, resulting in storm impacts (e.g. wind and snow) lingering into Tuesday across parts of the Northeast. Wintry precipitation will cover a broad area, stretching from the Midwest into the middle and northern Atlantic States, while showers and thunderstorms will briefly affect the Southeast. Meanwhile, a new Pacific storm system will arrive in the Northwest during the weekend. Although that system will take a slightly more northerly path across the West, drought-easing precipitation could again reach as far south as California and the Great Basin.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of below-normal temperatures across the western half of the U.S., while warmer-than-normal weather will be limited to the East and areas along the Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, below-normal precipitation in portions of the Pacific Coast States, as well as southern sections of Florida and Texas, should contrast with wetter-than-normal conditions in most other areas, especially from the central Plains into the Midwest.

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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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