Across the Corn Belt, cool, but mostly dry weather favors harvest activities in areas where crops are fully mature and soils are dry enough to support heavy equipment.
Due to late crop maturation, the U.S. corn harvest — 30% complete by Oct. 20 — is proceeding at the slowest pace since 2009, when just 18% of the crop had been harvested on that date. The U.S. soybean harvest, 46% complete on Oct. 20, is also advancing at the slowest pace in 10 years (34% harvested in 2009).
On the Plains, favorably dry weather covers the Dakotas, where many corn, soybean, sunflower, and sugar beet fields remain unharvested due to late crop maturation and/or soggy soils. Farther south, snow has ended across northern Texas and environs, where Thursday’s totals reached 2.6 inches in Amarillo and 2.0 inches in Dalhart. Early Friday, a chilly rain lingers across parts of the southern Plains, including much of central and eastern Oklahoma.
In the South, a low-pressure system over the western Gulf of Mexico is on the verge of merging with a cold front. As a result, Southern cloud cover is increasing, while rain is developing west of the Appalachians. Although showers are slowing field work, including final rice harvest efforts, the rain is helping to recharge soil moisture that had been depleted during the heat and dryness of late summer and early autumn.
In the West, extremely critical fire weather conditions have shifted to southern California, where warm, windy conditions prevail — and several wildfires are already burning. Meanwhile, calmer weather has returned across northern California, where the 16,000-acre Kincade Fire near Geyserville has destroyed more than four dozen structures and is just 5% contained. Elsewhere, mild, dry Northwestern conditions favor winter wheat planting, emergence, and establishment.
A low-pressure system over the Gulf of Mexico could briefly achieve tropical status later Friday before merging with a cold front and moving inland across the central Gulf Coast region. Once inland, the storm system will drift northward, delivering heavy rain (2 to 5 inches or more) to the Mississippi Delta and the Tennessee Valley.
During the weekend, heavy showers (1 to 3 inches) will reach the Ohio Valley and the Northeast. Meanwhile, another strong surge of cold air will arrive during the weekend across the Rockies and Plains. By early next week, chilly air will engulf much of the nation.
In California, however, dangerous and erratic winds, combined with dry conditions and low humidity levels, could lead to an extended period of fire weather concerns. Elsewhere, cold but favorably dry weather should prevail during the next several days in the north-central U.S.
Looking ahead, the six- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of below-normal temperatures nationwide, except for warmer-than-normal weather in northern and central California and along the Atlantic Seaboard. Meanwhile, below-normal precipitation across much of the western and central U.S. should contrast with wetter-than-normal weather in southern Texas and the eastern one-third of the country.