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March Crop Production: February Weather Summary

March 9, 2012

Most areas east of the Rockies completed a fourth consecutive month with above-normal temperatures, capping a winter with only fleeting periods of cold weather. February warmth was especially prevalent across the eastern half of the Nation, where pastures, winter grains, and fruit crops exhibited earlier-than-normal spring development.


Meanwhile, portions of the West moved closer to a failed winter wet season, with California and the Great Basin expecting significantly below-average spring and summer runoff. However, much of the West - excluding Arizona and New Mexico - had a temporary buffer against developing drought in the form of abundant reservoir storage.

Farther east, the Plains escaped the winter without a severe cold wave, although moisture shortages and a lack of a protective snow cover caused some problems for winter wheat. In particular, the southern High Plains suffered through several February dust storms, a by-product of high winds and soil moisture depleted by the historic drought of 2011.

Elsewhere, late-February storminess eased dry conditions in the upper Midwest and provided snow across the Nation's Northern Tier, while damaging thunderstorms and heavy rains swept across parts of the South, East, and lower Midwest. However, most of the late-month rain bypassed Florida's parched Peninsula.



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