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'Big chill' ahead in weather

03/22/2011 @ 8:25am

Clearly the big story with the weather is how abrupt the change to much colder weather will be. We have really be "spoiled" as of late, as temperatures for the most part have been running above normal since about March 11 and there have been days with temperatures averaging 10, 15, even 20 degrees above normal. It looks like we will be going to the opposite extreme for the last week of this month.

By Thursday it will be much colder over all of the Midwest and points northward, and once that happens it may be quite a while before a truly warm day is again seen. There will likely be a one-week stretch at the very end of this month in which temperatures for especially the eastern Corn Belt average 15 or more degrees below normal.

It may moderate some for the opening days of April, but temperatures even then are forecast to remain below normal for that time of year. With all of this cold weather, there is certainly the threat of snow as big snows of a foot or more are forecast over the next 36 hours in the northern Plains, and parts of the Interstate 80 corridor or even a bit south can certainly see some snow around for this weekend and early next week.

Deteriorating wheat conditions

Wheat traders today will be taking note of deteriorating winter wheat conditions in parts of the Plains, but will also be taking note of improved precipitation chances for that area for next week. Given the dryness and warmth of last week, there was little doubt that we would see some crop deterioration this week.

Kansas winter wheat ratings actually improved just a bit, but more notable was deterioration reported for winter wheat crops in Oklahoma and Texas. Oklahoma now has just 24 percent of their wheat crop rated good/excellent (down three percentage points from last week), and now has 43 percent of the crop rated poor/very poor (up four percentage points from last week). In Texas, 14 percent of the crop is rated good/excellent (down four percentage points from last week) while the amount in the poor/very poor category stayed the same at an alarming 56 percent. Conditions are certainly nothing to get excited about in Kansas either, with still 37 percent of the crop there rated as poor or very poor. At least 84 percent of the topsoil in the western crop districts of Kansas has moisture ratings of "short" or "very short".

 All of the precipitation for the rest of this week is going to be north of that area, but there are signs of better moisture chances even in the driest areas of the southern Plains for the first half of next week. It may still not be the all-encompassing soaker that the driest areas need, but potentially a lot of that area will be able to pick up a half inch of moisture next week.

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