5-day precipitation forecast
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Across the Corn Belt, showers and thunderstorms extend from the Great Lakes region into the middle Missouri Valley. Cooler air is overspreading the upper Midwest, but very warm weather in the Soft Red winter wheat belt favors crop development. By April 4, two percent of the winter wheat in Illinois had headed. Tuesday’s high temperatures will approach or reach 80° from the middle Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley.

On the Plains, a low-pressure system emerging from the Rockies separates lingering warmth across the southeastern half of the region from cooler conditions farther north. Beneficial precipitation is developing across South Dakota and portions of neighboring states. In South Dakota, winter wheat rated good to excellent decreased from 57 to 27% between November 29 and April 4; nationally, the good-to-excellent rating increased from 46 to 53% during the same period.

In the South, warm, dry weather favors winter wheat development and a rapid fieldwork pace. On April 4, Louisiana led the nation with 61% of its intended rice acreage planted. On the same date, corn planting had begun and was 1% complete in North Carolina and Tennessee. Florida remains the only Southeastern State with widespread dryness; on April 4, statewide topsoil moisture was rated 51% very short to short.

In the West, the arrival of cooler air is slowing the melting rate of high-elevation snowpack. However, warm, windy conditions linger from the Desert Southwest to the southern Rockies, where early-season wildfires remain a threat. In drought-stricken Arizona, 92% of the rangeland and pastures were rated in very poor to poor condition on April 4.

A developing storm system over the nation’s mid-section will drift eastward, reaching the western Corn Belt on Thursday. Subsequently, the low-pressure system will weaken and begin to move northward toward the upper Great Lakes region. Toward week’s end, storminess should shift into the southern and eastern U.S. Five-day rainfall totals could reach 1 to 3 inches or more in the upper Midwest and across parts of the South. Rain in both regions may be accompanied by locally severe thunderstorms. In contrast, mostly dry weather will prevail during the next 5 days in Montana and North Dakota, as well as southern Florida, New England, and a broad area stretching from California to the southern High Plains.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of near- or above-normal temperatures nationwide, except for cooler-than-normal conditions from the Pacific Northwest to the northern and central High Plains. Meanwhile, near- or below-normal rainfall across much of the U.S. should contrast with wetter-than-normal weather in several areas, including the southern Plains, Great Lakes region, and much of Florida.

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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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