Weather report: Cool air returns to the Plains, Corn Belt

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In the West, cold air is overspreading the northern half of the region, while warmth persists from California to the southern Rockies. In parts of the Four Corners States, dry, breezy conditions are increasing the risk of wildfires. Meanwhile, freeze warnings are in effect early today across portions of the interior Northwest.

On the Plains, cool weather is returning to areas as far south as Nebraska, while unusual warmth persists across the southern half of the region. Monday’s high temperatures topped the 90-degree mark in locations such as Amarillo, Texas (94°F), and Gage, Oklahoma (92°F), and similar readings can be expected again today. Farther north, rain showers are aggravating an already significant flood situation in the Red River Valley.

In the Corn Belt, unusually cool weather is returning to the upper Midwest. Meanwhile, some of the warmest weather of the year prevails across the central and eastern Corn Belt. Although the warmth is helping to elevate soil temperatures, fields remain wet in much of the southern Corn Belt—and showers and thunderstorms are currently affecting the northern Corn Belt.

In the South, thunderstorms are lurking near the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida. However, most of the rain is currently offshore, except across Florida’s peninsula. As a result, dry weather favors fieldwork in many parts of the South, including planting activities in the Delta that have been delayed by cool, wet weather.

Outlook: The latest surge of cold air will engulf the remainder of the nation’s mid-section by mid-week, although warmth will linger from the eastern Corn Belt into New England. On May 2-3, freezes can be expected as far south as the southern High Plains. By week’s end, record-setting warmth will return to the Pacific Coast States, while cold conditions will gradually ease across the Plains. During the mid- to late-week period, a slow-moving storm will produce copious precipitation in parts of the central and southeastern U.S. Five-day rainfall totals could reach 2 to 5 inches in the east-central Plains, western Corn Belt, and Gulf Coast States. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for May 5-9 calls for cooler-than-normal conditions from the central and southern Plains into the Southeast, while near- to above-normal temperatures will cover the remainder of the U.S. Meanwhile, wetter-than-normal weather in the southern Rockies and the eastern one-third of the U.S. will contrast with below-normal precipitation elsewhere.

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