In the West, dry weather favors spring fieldwork. Chilly conditions linger across the Rockies, but warm weather has returned to California and environs.

On the Plains, cooler-than-normal conditions persist, although temperatures have moderated from the very low readings observed on April 10-11. Across the central and southern High Plains, producers continue to monitor winter wheat for indications of injury, following the recent freezes and those that occurred in late March.

In the Corn Belt, a slow-moving storm system is centered near Lake Erie. Rain has mostly ended across the eastern Corn Belt, but rain and snow showers linger in the Great Lakes region. Although most fieldwork remains on hold, soil moisture levels have markedly improved in the upper Midwestern drought areas.

In the South, recovery efforts are underway in areas affected by recent severe thunderstorms. On Thursday, tornadoes struck parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and southeastern Louisiana. Currently, scattered showers and thunderstorms linger in the southern Atlantic States. Elsewhere, cool, dry weather favors a limited return to fieldwork, following recent rainfall.

Outlook: The influence of a sprawling storm system currently centered over the lower Great Lakes region will continue to wane. Meanwhile, a disturbance will arrive in the Northwest later today and help to spark the development of a new low-pressure system over the north-central U.S. during the weekend. Rain and snow showers will accompany the storm, primarily across the nation’s northern tier. Early next week, yet another storm will begin to take shape across the central Rockies. Eventually, this storm will produce another round of drought-easing precipitation across the nation’s mid-section. Although many parts of the country will experience a warming trend in advance of next week’s storm system, very cold weather will persist across the northern Plains and upper Midwest. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for April 17-21 calls for near- to below-normal temperatures nationwide, except for warmer-than-normal weather in California and the southern Atlantic region. Meanwhile, above-normal precipitation across the central High Plains and much of the eastern half of the U.S. will contrast with drier-thannormal conditions from the Pacific Coast States to the southern High Plains.