The Seasonal Drought Outlook for the Nation
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Across the Corn Belt, frost and freezes occurred Friday morning as far south as Missouri and Illinois. The only states in which corn was less than 90% fully mature on October 11 were Ohio (77% mature) and Michigan (82%). Among Midwestern States, Missouri had the fewest soybeans dropping leaves (77%), with all other states in the Corn Belt at 93% or above. On the Plains, cool, dry weather favors fieldwork, including winter wheat planting and harvest activities for a variety of crops. The U.S. sorghum harvest was 49% complete by October 11, compared to the 5-year average of 43%. However, dryness is reducing topsoil moisture for winter wheat establishment and stressing rangeland and pastures. On October 11, rangeland and pastures were rated at least 30% very poor to poor in each of the Plains States, led by Colorado (62%). In the South, scattered showers in the vicinity of a cold front are affecting the mid-Atlantic and stretch from the Appalachians to southern Texas. Cool, dry weather trails the front’s passage. Harvest activities remain behind schedule in some areas, following a barrage of tropical activity (e.g. Hurricanes Sally and Delta, as well as Tropical Storm Beta) in the last month. On October 11, Louisiana led the nation with topsoil moisture rated 61% surplus. In the West, dry weather persists. Meanwhile parts of California are experiencing record-setting warmth, along with an elevated to critical wildfire threat due to high temperatures, offshore winds, low humidity levels, and abundant dry fuels. According to the October 13 U.S. Drought Monitor, 80% of the 11-state Western region is experiencing drought. For the remainder of Friday into Saturday, drought-easing rain will overspread the Northeast. During the next several days, cold air will cover the Plains and Midwest, while warmth will linger from California into the Southwest. Early next week, warm weather will return along the Gulf Coast and across the southern Atlantic States. Meanwhile, dry weather will prevail during the next 5 days in the nation’s southwestern quadrant, from California to the central and southern High Plains. Following Friday’s showers, most of the Southeast will also experience dry weather. Farther north, however, 5-day rainfall totals could exceed an inch from the Ozark Plateau into the Great Lakes States. The northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest will receive beneficial precipitation, including high-elevation snow. Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook for calls for the likelihood of above-normal temperatures in the eastern U.S. and across the Deep South, while colder-than-normal conditions will prevail from the Pacific Northwest to the northern and central Plains and upper Midwest. Meanwhile, below-normal precipitation in most areas west of the Rockies should contrast with wetter-than-normal weather from the Plains to the East Coast.

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