USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility says on the Plains, blazing heat continues to severely stress pastures and summer crops, especially across central portions of the region. A few highly beneficial showers dot the northern Plains, USDA adds. "On July 15, the portion of topsoil moisture rated very short to short ranged from 60% in Texas to 92% in Nebraska," USDA reports. The portion of rangeland and pastures rated very poor to poor ranged from 28% in North Dakota to 78% in Kansas, according to USDA.
In the West, USDA says most areas are experiencing dry weather and below-normal temperatures. "Isolated showers are confined to the southern Rockies and the Pacific Northwest," USDA explains.
In the Corn Belt, USDA says devastatingly hot, dry conditions persist in most areas, although showers and thunderstorms are spreading across the far upper Midwest (e.g., the Dakotas). "On July 15, at least 80% of the topsoil moisture was rated very short to short in all Midwestern states except Minnesota (53% very short to short) and North Dakota (62%)," USDA elaborates. "Topsoil moisture was rated 98% very short to short in both Illinois and Missouri," USDA adds.
In the South, USDA says pastures and summer crops continue to benefit from last week's soil moisture improvements, despite a return to hot weather. "Scattered showers linger, primarily across the lower Southeast," USDA explains.
In its outlook, USDA says during the next two days, a weak cold front will slowly cross the Midwestern and Northeastern states. "Scattered showers will accompany a slight cooling trend in the eastern Corn Belt, although rainfall amounts in excess of an inch should be confined to areas along the Ohio River," USDA reports. More substantial rain (locally 1 to 3 inches) will fall across the Southeast, USDA adds. "Farther west, record-setting, triple-digit heat will persist across the central Plains and adjacent areas of the western Corn Belt, where little or no rain can be expected for the remainder of the week," according to USDA.