USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility says in the Corn Belt, favorably cooler weather prevails, although heat lingers across western-most areas. "In Fort Wayne, Indiana, a record-setting streak of highs of 90°F or greater has ended at 22 consecutive days (June 27 to July 18)," USDA reports. In addition, drought-stressed crops in parts of the northern and eastern Corn Belt are benefiting from recent topsoil moisture improvements, but much more rain is needed, according to USDA. "Currently, a few showers are returning to the far upper Midwest, including the eastern Dakotas," USDA adds.
In the West, USDA says cool conditions persist in the Pacific Coast states. "In the Northwest, scattered showers are slowing initial winter wheat harvest efforts," USDA reports.
On the Plains, USDA says blazing heat continues to severely stress pastures and both rain-fed and irrigated summer crops. "Today's high temperatures will exceed 100°F in a broad area stretching from Texas to South Dakota," USDA explains. Slightly cooler air and a few showers are arriving across the northernmost Plains, it continues.
In the South, USDA says scattered showers and thunderstorms stretch from the central Gulf Coast into the Tennessee Valley. "The rain is aiding later-planted summer crops and helping to revive pastures," USDA reports. However, the Mid- South — including much of Arkansas — remains extremely dry, according to USDA.
USDA's outlook says record-setting, triple-digit heat will persist well into next week across the Central and Southern Plains. In addition, hot weather will again spread eastward, eventually returning to the southern and eastern Corn Belt and the Mid-South, USDA reports. "During the next five days, minimal rain will fall across the central and southern Plains and the middle Mississippi Valley," USDA explains, continuing, "There will be some occasional showers, however, across the northern and eastern Corn Belt, although most totals will be less than an inch." More substantial rainfall (locally 2 to 5 inches) will be confined to the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states, USDA reports. A few locally heavy showers (as much as 1 to 2 inches) will also occur from the Four Corners states to the northern Plains, according to USDA.