A significant snowstorm that moved through the central United States over the weekend dumped more than a foot of snow on Midwest wheat areas, providing a protective cover for the dormant crop against frigid temperatures expected later this week, agricultural meteorologists said on Monday.

But the deep snowfall will slow the movement of grain and livestock early this week from Iowa eastward to Ohio as it will take a couple days for the Midwest to dig out, they added.

The heaviest snows of 10 to 18 inches (25.4 to 45.7 cm) fell from central Iowa eastward to southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois, northern Indiana, southern Michigan and northern Ohio.

"It produced a nice blanket of snow over the central and northern wheat areas, which will protect the wheat from the cold temperatures coming up this week," said meteorologist Dan Hicks of Freese-Notis Weather in Iowa.

Morning low temperatures plunged below zero Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius) in the western Corn Belt, and travel disruptions due to lingering snow and blowing snow continue across the eastern Corn Belt, according to the National Weather Service.

Hicks said the coldest readings were expected on Tuesday and Thursday morning, with temperatures falling below zero F.

Unprotected wheat can experience winterkill if temperatures dip below zero for four hours or more, thus preventing the crop from reaching its full yield potential this summer.

The southern areas of the Midwest soft red winter wheat belt missed the snow, but this week's temperatures were forecast to stay above zero, with lows in single digits and teens, limiting potential winterkill damage, Hicks said.

The Plains hard red winter wheat areas of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas also had beneficial moisture over the weekend but mostly as rain, forecasters said. Snow was limited to parts of Nebraska and northern Kansas, said MDA Weather Service meteorologist Don Keeney.

Over the next 10 days, moisture will be limited in the U.S. wheat regions, Commodity Weather Group said in its morning weather bulletin.

"Showers return to the Delta and possibly the southern Plains in the 11 to 15 day (period) and would provide more beneficial moisture," CWG said. "Rain potential improved in Pacific Northwest wheat for the next 10 days and will enhance soil moisture."