The 6-10 day temperature outlook
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Across the Corn Belt, tranquil weather prevails between storms. Chilly, breezy conditions linger across the eastern Corn Belt, but mild air is overspreading areas west of the Mississippi River. A shallow to moderately deep snow cover blankets the Midwest (except in Missouri and southern Illinois), helping to insulate winter wheat. Meanwhile, livestock producers are starting to prepare for an upcoming cold wave.

On the Plains, snow showers and gusty winds have developed in parts of Montana, in conjunction with a cold front’s passage. The temperature in Havre, Montana, fell to 18° by 6 am MST Wednesday morning, down from Tuesday’s high of 64°. In advance of the cold front, mild but breezy weather prevails from the Dakotas southward into Texas.

In the South, freezes occurred Wednesday morning in parts of northern Florida, although temperatures remained above 32° in the state’s citrus belt. Nevertheless, there are some concerns across Florida’s peninsula regarding recent winds and their impact on tender vegetation (such as winter vegetables) due to scarring from blowing sand. In early February, wind gusts to 40 mph or higher were reported in Florida locations such as Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Naples, Saint Petersburg, and Fort Pierce. Elsewhere in the South, cool, dry weather prevails.

In the West, a storm system arriving in the Pacific Northwest is producing widespread rain and snow. Precipitation extends as far south as the northern tier of California. Meanwhile, dry weather has returned across the Southwest, following limited drought relief over the last 2 weeks.

Weather conditions in the Northeast will slowly improve, although snow, gusty winds, and travel disruptions may linger into Wednesday night. (Through February 2, storm-total snowfall reached 17.2 inches in New York City and 16.5 inches in Worcester, Massachusetts.) Meanwhile, a disorganized storm crossing the Northwest will coalesce over the nation’s midsection on Thursday. As a result, significant, wind-driven snow will develop on Thursday in the upper Midwest and spread into the Great Lakes region. Parts of the Midwest and Northeast could experience late-week freezing rain. The coldest air of the season will trail the Midwestern storm, with temperatures during the weekend and early next week possibly falling to 0° or below as far south as the Ohio and middle Mississippi Valleys. In parts of Minnesota and North Dakota, temperatures may remain below 0° for at least 3 consecutive days, from February 6-8. Mostly dry weather will develop as cold air engulfs much of the country, aside from weekend rainfall in the Southeast.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for colder-than-normal weather nearly nationwide. Above-normal temperatures will be limited to parts of southern California and the Southwest. Meanwhile, near- or below-normal precipitation across most of the country should contrast with wetter-than-normal weather on the northern High Plains and from the western Gulf Coast region to the southern Atlantic Coast.

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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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