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Across the Corn Belt, breezy weather accompanies cold, mostly cloudy conditions. Snow showers and squalls are occurring downwind of the Great Lakes. As spring approaches, excess soil moisture remains a concern in many parts of the Midwest. In late February, USDA/NASS reported that topsoil moisture was at least one-third surplus in Michigan (50% surplus), Missouri (50%), South Dakota (41%), Ohio (39%), Illinois (37%), and North Dakota (34%).

On the Plains, patches of light snow are occurring across the northern half of the region. Below-normal temperatures prevail throughout the region, except in parts of Montana. In North Dakota, producers made modest progress during February with the severely delayed sunflower harvest, which is currently 79% complete.

In the South, cold weather prevails in the wake of a cold front’s passage. Freezes were noted early Thursday throughout the western Gulf Coast region, except in Deep South Texas. Elsewhere, snow showers linger in the southern Appalachians.

In the West, dry weather accompanies expanding warmth. In California, the earlier-than-normal arrival of spring and record-low February rainfall totals have led some producers to begin irrigating. Daily-record high temperatures were reported on Wednesday in California locations such as Stockton (79°F) and Sacramento (76°F), where measurable rain last fell on January 26.

An intense storm system currently centered over northern New York will maintain stormy Northeastern conditions for the remainder of today. Heavy rain will fall in coastal New England, while snow will blanket northern sections of New Hampshire and Maine. Blizzard Warnings are in effect downwind of Lakes Erie and Ontario. Meanwhile, Western warmth will further expand, reaching the nation’s mid-section during the weekend. By early next week, warm weather will also return across the East, while colder air will settle across the West. Scattered rain and snow showers will accompany the Western cooling trend, although precipitation will be mostly light. Early next week, heavy rain may develop in an area stretching from the southeastern Plains into the Ohio Valley.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of near- or above-normal temperatures and precipitation across most of the country. Colder-than-normal conditions will be confined to central and southern sections of the Rockies and High Plains, while drier-than-normal weather should be limited to southern Texas and from Oregon and California into the Great Basin.

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