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Is Rain Headed to the Parched Plains?

05/07/2014 @ 8:09am

Most of the Midwestern U.S. is dry this morning, with the exception of a line of showers and storms across the far northern Corn Belt. These showers and storms are forming along a zone of warm advection aloft, marking the leading edge of a warm front.

Farther south across the Midwest, a much warmer airmass is encroaching upon the region from the south. This warmer, juicier airmass will spread northward through a substantial portion of the Corn Belt today, launching temperatures into the upper 70s and 80s for most. Across far western areas, readings may rise as high as the lower 90s. With mainly dry weather forecast to remain in control over the next 24 hours, significant fieldwork and planting progress is likely.

Farther south and west, showers and thunderstorms will develop just east of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles this afternoon, which should provide beneficial rains to some of the severely parched HRW wheat crop. However, some of the driest areas in the panhandles will remain dry through the next several days with worsening drought conditions expected. In general, rainfall totals through the weekend east of the panhandles are expected to reach 0.5 to 1.0 inch, although coverage will be somewhat spotty (60% to 75%), due to the fact that much of these rain chances will stem from hit-and-miss thunderstorms.

Switching gears back to the Corn Belt, rain chances will increase tomorrow morning and especially during the afternoon across western areas as a strong cold front aproaches from the Plains. Central and eastern parts of the Midwest will likely stay dry, allowing for another productive day on the fields. Thursday night through Friday, central and eastern areas will see rainfall, with most areas drying out Saturday as weak high pressure tries to move back into the region. Rainfall totals with this system will range from 0.5 to 1.0 inch across most of the Corn Belt.

Late this weekend rainfall chances will increase once again for the western Midwest, although timing and rainfall amounts are highly uncertain due to significant differnces between the ECMWF and GFS models. Either way, central and eastern portions of the Corn Belt will see the best planting weather through the week, with western and northern areas likely to see more substantial delays. Heading into next week, cooler-than-normal temperatures will also spread into the western Corn Belt, helping to prolong delays, especially for Minnesota where corn planting delays are currently 2.4 weeks in length.

Planting delays across the Ohio Valley are on the order of 1.5 to 2.5 weeks, with some improvements to these numbers possible before next Monday's Crop Report. Wisconsin and Minnesota will likely maintain corn planting delays of at least 1.5 weeks through next Monday.


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