USDA: Bitterly Cold Conditions Easing on the Plains

January 7, 2014 02:39 AM

USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility says on the Plains, bitterly cold weather has begun to ease, except in the eastern Dakotas. "At the height of the cold wave, snow helped to insulate winter wheat in many areas, although there was a notable gap in coverage across much of Nebraska, south-central and southwestern South Dakota, and north-central Kansas," USDA details. On Jan. 6, low temperatures in those areas with little or no snowcover generally ranged from -5 to -15°F, USDA continues.

In the West, USDA reports mild, mostly dry weather prevails, despite an in crease in cloudiness. "A few rain and snow showers are overspreading the Pacific Northwest," USDA adds. In Arizona, the cotton harvest was 99% complete by Jan. 5, ahead of the five-year average of 95%, USDA details. "Meanwhile, the average water content of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snow pack stands at 2 inches, less than 20% of the early-January normal," USDA elaborates.

In the Corn Belt, frigid conditions persist, with this morning’s temperatures falling below 0°F in nearly all locations. "A deep snowcover and snow drifts continue to complicate travel in the central and eastern Corn Belt, where current snow depths include 13 inches in Rockford, Illinois, and Indianapolis, Indiana," USDA elaborates.

In the South, USDA says winter agricultural areas across Deep South Texas and Florida’s peninsula escaped without a major freeze this morning, although wind chill advisories have been posted. "Meanwhile, hard freeze warnings are in effect early today along the Gulf Coast from eastern Texas to Florida’s panhandle," USDA reports. In southern Louisiana, where temperatures plunged to near 20°F, most of last year’s sugarcane has already been harvested, USDA continues.

In its outlook, USDA says very cold conditions will persist through mid-week in most areas from the Plains to the East Coast. During the second half of the week, how ever, rapid warming will lead to mostly above-normal temperatures starting Friday. Along with the warmer weather will come an increase in precipitation, with five-day totals reaching 1 to 3 inches in the lower Mississippi Valley ; 2 to 4 inches in the northern Rockies ; and locally more than 6 inches in the Pacific Northwest. Dry weather will persist, however, in central and southern California.

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Spell Check

1/7/2014 01:41 PM

  In the weather outlook, it is mentioned that the Pacific Northwest could locally see 6 inches of moisture. Will that moisture fall mainly over the Cascade Mountains, Seattle and the rest of Western Washington? Or will South Eastern Washington see some o f that moisture. I am talking mainly about Franklin County where we have been extremely dry. December was the driest in 47 years,.38" of moisture. October and November was not much better. What wheat is up is hunkered down and just existing.

1/8/2014 03:04 AM

  Thanks for your comment and the update on soil/wheat conditions in your area. I hope you receive rain soon!! Unfortunately, USDA does not go into more detail as to where exactly in the Pacific Northwest these heavy rains are expected to fall. Your best option would probably be to turn to local weather updates for specific coverage forecasts. -- Meghan Pedersen


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