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USDA: Rains Eased Severe Drought Areas of Northwest Iowa, Southern Minnesota

08:13AM Mar 05, 2012

USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility says in the Corn Belt, light snow is exiting the Ohio Valley, while sunny skies are aiding storm recovery efforts across the lower Midwest. "Recent well-placed rain provided some relief to severe drought areas of northwestern Iowa and southern Minnesota," USDA reports.

In the West, USDA says cool, mostly dry conditions persist, although some rain and snow are spreading into the Pacific Northwest. "Recent precipitation has done little to change the spring and summer water-supply outlook, which remains especially bleak for California and the Great Basin," according to USDA.

On the Plains, USDA says dry weather prevails, with unseasonable warmth expanding across the region. "Today's high temperatures are expected to average 12°F to 20°F above normal from Montana into northern Texas," USDA adds.

In the South, USDA says sharply colder air has settled into Florida and much of the Southeast, although temperatures remain above freezing in key citrus areas. "This weekend's heavy rain provided much-needed drought relief from northern Florida and southern Georgia into the Carolinas," USDA says. However, central and southern Florida remains unfavorably dry, according to USDA.

In its outlook, USDA says slow-moving storm system and its attendant cold front will divide unseasonable warmth ahead of the system from sharply colder weather behind the front. "The storm will initially push across the northwestern quarter of the nation, generating widespread rain and snow across the Rockies and Great Basin," USDA explains. Meanwhile, daytime highs will average more than 20°F above normal across the central Plains and Corn Belt before the front arrives midweek, according to USDA. "As the storm begins to tap into Gulf moisture, precipitation will intensify from the southeastern Plains and Delta into the Corn Belt on Wednesday, with severe weather also possible," USDA reports. The storm’s slow movement may result in locally heavy rainfall during the latter half of the week from the central Gulf Coast into the Ohio Valley, USDA adds.