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'Chilly lamb' to start March weather

John Walter Updated: 02/27/2013 @ 4:17pm

The latest snow storm in the central U.S. brought signficant snowfall that could translate into improved soil moisture conditions once melting occurs, forecasters say. Some areas of the region saw heavy, even record snowfall amounts. Yesterday, Wichita, Kansas, reported a all-time record monthly snow total of 21.2" for February, Freese-Notis reported.

The snowfall "will help to improve soil moisture for wheat once it begins to melt," says Don Keeney, MDA EarthSat Weather. "Milder temperatures this weekend in the southern Plains will allow the snow there to indeed begin to melt, but little snow melt is expected elsewhere in the Plains or the Midwest."

As the calendar turns to March and ever closer to spring planting in large parts of the nation, the forecast calls for a start to the month that is "like a chilly lamb," Freese-Notis said.

"A new storm is forecast to move southeast from the northern plains over the weekend across the western Corn Belt and central Corn Belt states by early next week, bringing light snow to the region. Another potentially intense storm is forecast to develop across the southern plains and the Corn Belt states around the 8th thru the 10th of March," the weather service said.

"The National Weather Service 6- to 10-day outlook for March 4-8 calls for near- to below-normal temperatures nationwide, except for warmer-than-normal weather in northern Maine and west of the Rockies," Brad Rippey, USDA agricultural meteorologist, reported this week. Precipitation is expected to be above normal across the northern and central Plains and the western Corn Belt during the period.

Longer term, in its 31- to 60-day outlook, MDA's Don Keeney sees a drier trend across the southwestern Plains and southwestern Midwest, but trending wetter across the northern Plains, northwestern Midwest, and southern Prairies.

"The wetter conditions in the northern Plains and southern Prairies will help to further improve soil moisture there, which will favor spring crops once planting begins," Keeney said. "Also, the drier and warmer conditions in the Delta will allow planting there to improve."

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