USDA: Another Arctic Blast Expected for the Plains

December 17, 2013 02:39 AM

USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility says on the Plains, mild weather stands in stark contrast to last week’s frigid conditions. "Once again, today’s high temperatures will exceed 60°F as far north as the central High Plains," USDA explains. However, the warmer weather has eroded any snow that had accumulated on the High Plains, USDA adds. In addition, drought concerns persist on the southern High Plains, where mild, breezy conditions prevail, USDA continues.

In the West, USDA says mild, dry weather has replaced last week’s record-setting cold wave. "Assessments continue with regard to the citrus freeze in California’s San Joaquin Valley," USDA reports. California is also contending with more than two years of drought, according to USDA. "For example, California’s 154 intrastate reservoirs collectively held 74% of their normal water volume on Nov. 30. In mid-December, the average water content of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snow pack stood at just 2 inches, less than 30% of normal for this time of year," USDA elaborates.

In the Corn Belt, USDA says cold weather and snow showers linger from the upper Mississippi Valley into the lower Great Lakes region. "However, mild air is just starting to encroach on the southwestern Corn Belt," USDA explains.

In the South, USDA reports warm, dry weather is promoting late-season fiel dwork, including cotton and soybean harvesting. "On Dec. 15, harvesting in North Carolina was 95% complete for cotton and 90% complete for soybeans," USDA details.

In its outlook, USDA says a strengthening area of low pressure will bring increasingly heavy snow to portions of New England. "Meanwhile, unseasonable warmth (20°F or more above normal) will slowly shift from the western half of the nation into the East by week’s end," USDA continues. In contrast, another shot of arctic air will surge southward onto the Plains during the latter half of the week, with snow expected to develop in the front’s wake from the central and northern High Plains into the western Corn Belt by Thursday, according to USDA. "By the weekend, a slow-moving storm coupled with abundant Gulf moisture will lead to heavy rain developing over the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys," USDA reports.

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