The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of MartellCropProjections.com:
Wildly Fluctuating Temperatures in Midwest, Locally Heavy Rain
An impressive weekend storm produced a mixture of rain, sleet and snow in the Midwest, up to .50 inches in scattered areas of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan.
Minnesota and Iowa have been very dry in January, receiving hardly any moisture at all. Drought continues to be a serious concern in the Western Corn Belt. Nebraska has the worst drought with a 7-inch moisture deficit back to mid- summer 2012. The Minnesota moisture deficiency is 6 inches and Iowa 5 inches.
Wildly fluctuating temperatures this week will continue. Des Moines, Iowa, is expected to be 48 F today, experiencing thunderstorms tonight with a low of 45 F. Temperatures then would begin to plummet. By Thursday, the maximum temperature would be 12 F, dropping to 0 F overnight. That would be a 45 degree fluctuation. Just one week ago sub-zero F temperatures developed in the Upper Midwest in a bitter cold wave.
Heavy Rain Coming to Eastern Midwest
Stormy conditions will continue today with a slow-moving front. Moist air from the Gulf of Mexico will stream northward Tuesday, feeding into the storm's circulation. One-inch rainfall amounts are expected in scattered areas of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. Gulf moisture would stream northward into the Mississippi Valley tonight, saturating the atmosphere and enhancing thunderstorm chances Tuesday. Partially frozen fields may absorb some moisture; mostly, heavy rains are apt to run off frozen fields.
Field conditions on Eastern Midwest corn farms are much better than west of the Mississippi River, due to generous fall precipitation.
Drought Resumes in Hard Red Winter Wheat
Generous precipitation occurring in late December-early January improved topsoil moisture. West Texas, Oklahoma and southwestern Kansas received 1-1.35 inch rains. Since then conditions have gone dry. For wheat to improve, very heavy rainfall is required, since fields are dry though a deep layer. The soil moisture deficit is 2- 4 inches, even when recent rains are accounted for.
The subtropical jet stream is the primary rain-maker in the winter season. It suddenly strengthened in late December-early January causing very generous showers. Conditions since then have turned dry with an inactive southern jet stream. Sudden drying recently may be linked to an emerging La Nina signal.
The forecast is ominous for hard red winter wheat calling for minimal rains in the upcoming week. Strong warming is also predicted. Dry winds from the Mexico desert would circulate up into the Southern Plains, causing low humidity and unusual warmth with upper 50s- 60s F.