The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of MartellCropProjections.com:
Hard Red Wheat Above Average
Unusually cold temperatures dominated the United States heartland in November, slowing or stopping wheat growth in the Great Plains. Yet, the 97% of wheat "emerged" in the breadbasket by November 23rd was 5% above the average. The stronger wheat growth and development in fall is a positive indicator, as a more developed root system gives wheat a head-start on growth in the spring.
The 62% good-excellent hard red wheat November 23 ranked among the top 25% out of the past 15 years. Poor wheat in Texas from drought has been a drag on U.S. hard red winter wheat prospects. A major storm last week produced beneficial rain and snow, improving soil moisture in the 3rd biggest U.S. bread wheat state. West Texas, the main wheat growing area, still reports moderate drought, but prospects are significantly better than before.
Volatile Temperatures, Southern Storm
Strong warming would bring balmy 40s F and 50s F to the U.S. heartland today but a bitter cold wave would follow later in the week. A large Arctic air mass would sink southward out of Western Canada into the Great Plains and Upper Midwest, causing sub-zero F temperatures Wednesday-Friday nights.
Where dry cold Arctic air clashes with warm moist Gulf air, in the southern United States, significant precipitation is predicted later in the week. A short wave disturbance would gather strength in West Texas Thursday, tracking across the Southern Plains and causing moderate snow in West Texas, Oklahoma and much of Kansas. Much wetter conditions are predicted further east, rain mixed with snow in a wide swath from Arkansas and Tennessee up to the mid Atlantic coast.
Meanwhile most of the heartland would experience extreme cold with sub-zero temperatures at night. Des Moines Iowa would go from 52 F today to 14 F Wednesday night, when an Arctic air mass moves in. Snow flurries are possible from time to time this week in the Upper Midwest , but no heavy snow.
El Nino Signal
The weather pattern described in the forecast reflects an El Nino influence. Stormy winters are common in the southern tier of the United States due to a strong sub-tropical jet stream that occurs with the El Nino. The strength of El Nino is measured by how warm sea surface temperatures are in the equatorial Pacific. Sea surface temperatures presently are below the threshold for El Nino from .20 C to .40 C above normal. The El Nino threshold is + 0.50 C.