USDA: Warm Temps Acerbating Southern Plains Drought

March 20, 2014 04:00 AM

USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility says on the Plains, light snow is affecting parts of Montana and North Dakota. "Warm, dry weather covers the remainder of the nation’s mid-section," USDA adds. With warmer weather, drought is becoming more apparent across the southern half of the Plains; on March 16, topsoil moisture was rated 75% very short to short in Oklahoma, along with 73% in Texas and 55% in Kansas, according to USDA.

In the West, USDA says unusual warmth prevails from California eastward, causing some premature snowpack melting. "In contrast, cooler weather is arriving in the Northwest, accompanied by isolated rain and snow showers," USDA reports.

In the Corn Belt, USDA says cool, generally dry weather prevails, except for some light snow in the vicinity of Lakes Michigan and Superior. "Midwestern snowcover has receded but remains extensive from Minnesota to Michigan," USDA adds. "Current snow depths include 6 inches in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, and Traverse City, Michigan," according to USDA.

In the South, USDA reports dry weather accompanies near- to below-normal temperatures. "Spring fieldwork has been limited in some areas by cool and/or wet soils," USDA adds. "In Georgia, for example, 9% of the intended corn acreage had been planted by March 16, compared to the five-year average of 11%. Georgia’s peaches were blooming at a slower- than-normal pace—43% on March 16, compared to the five-year average of 52%," USDA elaborates.

In its outlook, USDA says during the next couple of days, precipitation—including widespread snow—will be mostly confined to the nation’s northern tier. Beginning on Saturday, however, rain will develop across the Mid-South and spread into the Southeast, USDA continues. "Five-day precipitation totals could reach 1 to 2 inches in the eastern Gulf Coast region, but amounts will be mostly one-half inch or less elsewhere in the Southeast, as well as across the northern tier of the country," USDA details. Mostly dry weather will persist into early next week from the Pacific Coast to the southern High Plains, USDA reports. Unusual warmth will accompany California’s dryness, but a strong surge of cold air will arrive east of the Rockies during the weekend, according to USDA.


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