Spring Weather: Rain in the North and Risk of Fires in the Plains

12:00PM May 06, 2014
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For farmers in the Midwest, weather conditions look favorable for planting. AgDay meteorologist Mike Hoffman says a warm front is progressing northward. With the current jet stream activity, he says there’s a chance of a prolonged warmer period.

Watch AgDay’s weather forecast for May 6:


Warm, dry weather favors an acceleration of corn and soybean planting activities from the lower Missouri Valley into the lower Ohio Valley, according to USDA’s agricultural weather highlights.

But, farmers in other parts of the country are dealing with less-than-favorable weather conditions. In the West, rain and high-elevation snow showers stretch from the Great Basin to the northern Intermountain region. Cool weather prevails, except for some lingering warmth in the central and southern Rockies.

On the Plains, a chilly rain is further delaying fieldwork in parts of Montana and the Dakotas. In contrast, hot, dry, breezy conditions are enhancing the risk of wildfires and maintaining severe stress on rangeland, pastures, and winter grains on the southern Plains. For the third day in a row, temperatures will reach or exceed 100°F in portions of Oklahoma and Texas.

Meanwhile, in the South, very warm, dry weather is helping producers to pick up the planting pace. By May 4, overall planting progress was behind schedule for Southern crops such as cotton (16% planted, versus the 5-year average of 25%) and rice (57% planted, versus the average of 65%).

Looking Ahead

Another slow-moving storm will develop across the nation’s mid-section. The center of the low-pressure system should reach the upper Midwest on Thursday and drift into eastern Canada during the weekend. Severe thunderstorms are a possibility along the storm’s trailing cold front on May 7-8.

Storm-total precipitation could reach 1 to 3 inches or more across portions of the northern Plains and upper Midwest. Similar amounts of rain may occur from the southeastern Plains to the Appalachians. Cooler weather will return to the southern High Plains by week’s end, but gusty winds and dry conditions will maintain the threat of wildfires and blowing dust.

The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for May 11-15 calls for below-normal temperatures from the northern half of the Plains into the Great Lakes region, while warmer-than-normal weather will prevail in the West, South, and East. Meanwhile, below-normal rainfall from the Pacific Coast to the Plains—excluding the nation’s northern tier—will contrast with wetter-than-normal conditions across the eastern one-third of the U.S.

Related story: Drought, Wind Create Dust Storms in the High Plains

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