The 6-10 day temperature outlook
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Across the Corn Belt, cold weather follows Tuesday’s inclement weather, which included a band of late-season snow from the middle Mississippi Valley into the lower Great Lakes region. Official snowfall totals for April 20 reached 4.2 inches in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and 3.5 inches in Kansas City, Missouri. Freezes occurred Wednesday morning throughout the Midwest— a potential concern for fruit crops and winter wheat. On April 18, five percent of the wheat in Illinois had headed.

On the Plains, freezes were reported Wednesday morning as far south as Abilene, Texas, where the low of 32° set a record for the date. Goodland, Kansas, noted a daily-record minimum temperature for the second morning in a row, posting a low of 18° early Wednesday. The cold weather continues to pose a threat to winter wheat, which on April 18 was 41% headed in Texas and 17% headed in Oklahoma. On the same date in Kansas, one-half of the winter wheat had jointed.

In the South, heavy showers are ending across Florida’s peninsula. Warmth lingers in the southern Atlantic States, but sharply cooler air is overspreading areas west of the Appalachians. In fact, freezes occurred Wednesday morning in parts of the mid-South, including the Ozark Plateau.

In the West, mostly dry weather prevails, despite an increase in cloudiness across the southern half of the region. Spring warmth has prematurely eliminated more than one-half of water equivalency of the Sierra Nevada snowpack—from 18 to 8 inches, according to the California Department of Water Resources—in less than a month, with negative implications for reservoir recharge and summer water supplies.

For the remainder of Wednesday into Thursday, accumulating snow will affect portions of New York and northern New England. Widespread freezes will occur on Thursday morning across the northern two-thirds of the central and eastern U.S., further threatening winter wheat; emerged summer crops; blooming fruits; and a variety of nursery and ornamental rops. By Friday morning, residual cold air could lead to additional freezes in the middle and northern Atlantic States, as well as the northwestern half of the Plains. Late in the weekend and early next week, a warming trend will take place from the Plains eastward, aside from lingering cool conditions in the North. Meanwhile, warmth in the Far West will be replaced by cooler conditions and scattered showers. During the next 5 days, precipitation could total as much as 1 to 2 inches from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Rockies, extending as far south as the Sierra Nevada. Late-week rainfall could reach 1 to 3 inches or more across the South.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of above-normal temperatures across much of the central and eastern U.S., while cooler-than-normal conditions will be confined to the Far West and a small area near the Canadian border in Minnesota and North Dakota. Meanwhile, near- or above-normal precipitation in most of the country should contrast with drier-than-normal weather across central and southern sections of the Rockies and Plains.

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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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