USDA: Above-normal Temps Erode Protective Snowcover

December 27, 2013 03:01 AM

USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility says on the Plains, above-normal temperatures have begun to melt some of the region’s protective snowcover. "Wheat is now mostly exposed to the elements across the central and southern Plains, although snow remains on the ground in the east-central Plains, the Dakotas, and Montana," USDA elaborates.

In the West, USDA says warmer- and drier-than-normal weather prevails, increasing concerns over developing drought from the Pacific Northwest into California and the Great Basin. "Mountain snowpacks (snow water equivalent) in the Sierra Nevada are less than 40% of normal, while some areas in the Cascades are less than 10% of normal," USDA details.

In the Corn Belt, USDA says snow showers are sweeping across northern portions of the region, although temperatures are generally seasonable. "Nevertheless, winter wheat remains devoid of a protective snow cover in the Ohio Valley," USDA continues.

In the South, USDA reports rain is falling from the central Gulf Coast into the Southeast, easing short-term dryness but hampering fieldwork. Dry weather persists in central and southern Florida, USDA adds.

In its outlook, USDA says over the next two days, increasingly warm, dry weather will prevail across much of the nation. "Daytime highs will average 10°F to 20°F above normal on the Plains, with this warmth gradually spreading east over the weekend," USDA elaborates. However, as the weekend approaches, USDA reports a strong cold front will push south out of Canada, bringing sharply colder weather (20°F or more below normal) to the Plains and western Corn Belt by Sunday. "At the same time, a developing storm system in the Gulf will track northeast, producing a soaking rainfall from the eastern Gulf Coast into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast; at this juncture, a winter storm does not seem likely due to a lack of cold air over the East," according to USDA. Dry weather is expected from the Rockies to the Pacific Coast, USDA continues.


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