Weather report: Freeze warnings on the southern Plains

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In the West, temperatures have rebounded to above-normal levels in the Pacific Coast States, but cool conditions persist in the Rockies and the Intermountain region. Throughout the West, dry weather favors fieldwork. In California, for example, 60% of the cotton and 10% of the rice was planted by April 21, ahead of the respective 5-year averages of 53 and 4%.

On the Plains, freeze warnings are in effect this morning across much of Kansas, Oklahoma, northern Texas, and eastern New Mexico. In fact, readings fell below 20°F as far south as Texas’ northern panhandle, further threatening the southern Plains’ already drought- and freeze-damaged winter wheat crop. By April 21, wheat was 34% headed in Texas and 5% headed in Oklahoma. Meanwhile, wheat was 86% jointed in Oklahoma and 43% jointed in Kansas.

In the Corn Belt, widespread lowland flooding continues from the middle Mississippi Valley into parts of the Great Lakes region. In Illinois, the Illinois River at Peoria crested on Tuesday at 11.35 feet above flood stage, edging the May 1943 high-water mark by more than 6 inches. A band of rain has moved east of the hardest-hit flood areas, and currently stretches from the lower Great Lakes region into the lower Ohio Valley.

In the South, rain in the lower Mississippi Valley and environs separates mild, dry weather in the Atlantic Coast States from cool, breezy conditions farther west. Outlook: A cold front currently stretching from the lower Great Lakes region to the central Gulf Coast will drift eastward and weaken. Showers associated with the front will move east of the Atlantic Seaboard by Thursday. In the front’s wake, snow showers will linger across the north-central U.S. Late in the week, rain will return to the Southeast, with 1 to 2 inches expected in some areas. Much of the U.S., excluding the Southeast, will experience a warming trend during the next several days. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for April 29 – May 3 calls for near- to above-normal temperatures and precipitation across the majority of the U.S. Cooler-than-normal conditions will be limited to Texas, the southern Atlantic region, and the nation’s northern tier from Washington to North Dakota, while drier-than-normal weather will be limited to an area stretching from California to the central Plains

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