5-day weather outlook chart
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Across the Corn Belt, a sharp cold front extends southward through the Mississippi Valley. Snowy, windy, cold weather has engulfed the upper Midwest, while mild, dry weather prevails in the eastern Corn Belt. In advance of the cold front, rain showers are developing in the middle Mississippi Valley and environs.

On the Plains, wind-driven snow continues to fall across parts of the Dakotas, where significant travel disruptions persist. In other areas of the northern Plains where snow has fallen, rural travel remains difficult and livestock remain stressed amid unusually cold conditions. In fact, below-normal temperatures and gusty winds have engulfed nearly the entire region, with lingering warmth (and some rain showers) limited to the southeastern Plains. Freezes were reported early Friday in western Texas as far south as Lubbock.

In the South, showers are overspreading an area stretching from Arkansas into the western Gulf Coast region. Any rain along and near the Texas coast is providing beneficial moisture for recently planted crops, including corn, cotton, rice, and sorghum. Elsewhere, cool conditions linger in the Southeast, while gusty winds persist in the mid-Atlantic region.

In the West, cool weather across the northern half of the region contrasts with warmth in Arizona and New Mexico. For the second day in a row, Freeze Warnings were in effect in parts of southwestern Oregon and northwestern California. Dry weather prevails, except for lingering rain and snow showers in the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies.

A cold front currently stretching from Minnesota to Texas will slowly advance eastward and weaken. Prior to weakening, however, the front could spark heavy showers (1 to 4 inches) and locally severe thunderstorms in the western Gulf Coast region. Later, the focus for storminess will shift to California, where weekend precipitation should become heavy. In contrast, little or no precipitation will fall during the next 5 days in the Southwest or the southern Atlantic States. Elsewhere, a blast of cold air will briefly result in weekend freezes as far south as the northern panhandle of Texas. By early next week, however, above-normal temperatures will return across much of the central and eastern U.S.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of near- or below-normal temperatures across the northern and western U.S., while warmer-than-normal weather will prevail from the southern Plains into the Southeast. Meanwhile, near- or below-normal precipitation from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Plains should contrast with wetter-than-normal conditions across the remainder of the country.

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