USDA: Dust Storms on the Plains Reflect Damage of Ongoing Drought

March 19, 2014 03:18 AM

USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility says in on the Plains, multiple dust storms—the latest of which occurred on Tuesday—continue to reflect the damage to rangeland, pastures, and native vegetation caused by ongoing, long-term drought in western Texas, eastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas and the Oklahoma panhandle. "On March 16, Oklahoma’s subsoil moisture was rated 82% very short to short, while winter wheat was rated 37% very poor to poor," USDA elaborates. Meanwhile, cool weather covers the northwestern half of the Plains in the wake of recent snowfall, USDA continues.

In the West, USDA reports warmth is once again building across the Pacific Coast states, while cool conditions linger farther inland. "California’s third consecutive sub-par wet season appears to have effectively ended, with premature melting of snow already occurring in the Sierra Nevada," USDA details.

In the Corn Belt, USDA says a low-pressure system crossing the Great Lakes states is producing an organized area of late-season snowfall. "The wintry weather represents a continuation of harsh conditions in the Midwest, which recently completed its coldest December-February period since the late 1970s," USDA elaborates.

In the South, USDA says cool, dry weather prevails, except for a few sprinkles in the southern Mid-Atlantic States. "Fieldwork has been slow to begin in many areas due to the combination of cool, wet soil conditions," USDA adds.

In its outlook, USDA says snow will continue to affect portions of the Great Lakes region today before spreading into northern New England on Thursday. "Toward week’s end, another disturbance will produce some additional snow across the nation’s northern tier," USDA continues. During the weekend, a surge of cold air will trail that disturbance into the Midwest and Northeast, while rain will develop across the South, USDA explains. Dry weather will persist, however, from California to the southern High Plains, USDA adds. "In addition, unusually warm weather will continue to plague California," USDA reports.

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