Weather report: Cold conditions return to the Plains, Corn Belt

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In the West, warm, mostly dry weather prevails west of the Rockies. Summer water-supply concerns exist from California to the central and southern Rockies, despite early-March precipitation. California recently completed its driest January-February period on record, and the Sierra Nevada snow pack is only about two- thirds of normal for mid-March. However, Southwestern grasses have improved in recent weeks; on March 10, less than one-third (32%) of Arizona’s rangeland and pastures were rated in very poor to poor condition.

On the Plains, cold, dry weather prevails, except for snow showers in the Dakotas and some light rain in southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma. Despite recent topsoil moisture improvements, nearly half (44%) of the Texas winter wheat crop was rated in very poor to poor condition on March 10. On the same date, well over half (61%) of the rangeland and pastures in Texas were rated very poor to poor.

In the Corn Belt, cold weather accompanies scattered snow showers. A substantial snow cover remains in place across the upper Midwest, but snow has melted away in the southern and eastern Corn Belt.

In the South, lingering rain showers are sweeping across the southern Atlantic States. Showers are temporarily reducing irrigation demands across Florida’s peninsula. Cool, dry weather covers the remainder of the region.

Outlook: A cold front crossing the East will move offshore later today, although precipitation may linger into Wednesday across New England. In the front’s wake, cold weather will prevail through week’s end in the East, while a series of disturbances will generate snow showers from the Midwest to the Appalachians. Elsewhere, little or no rain will fall through week’s end across the southern half of the U.S., while locally heavy precipitation will occur in the Northwest. Mid- to late-week temperatures will quickly rebound to above-normal levels across the Plains, while unusual warmth will prevail in the West. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for March 17-21 calls for near- to below-normal temperatures nationwide, except for warmer-than-normal weather from the Ohio River southward to the Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, above-normal precipitation in most areas between the Rockies and Appalachians will contrast with drier-than-normal weather along the southern Atlantic Coast and from the Pacific Coast to the Rio Grande Valley.

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