Weather report: Moisture returns to the Plains

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In the West, widespread precipitation is occurring across the southern half of the region. Southwestern precipitation is boosting high-elevation snow packs and aiding rangeland and pastures.

On the Plains, precipitation is falling across the southern half of the region, benefiting rangeland, pastures, and winter wheat. Frozen precipitation (snow, sleet, and freezing rain) is falling in northwestern Oklahoma and southwestern Kansas, while most other areas are receiving rain. Farther north, bitterly cold weather prevails in the Dakotas, where a few locations reported minimum temperatures of -20°F or below.

In the Corn Belt, bitterly cold conditions are maintaining stress on livestock in the upper Midwest, where this morning’s temperatures locally fell below -20°F. Elsewhere, cold, dry weather prevails, except for lingering snow showers downwind of the Great Lakes.

In the South, rain showers are breaking out in areas west of the Delta. Cool, dry weather covers the remainder of the region. USDA reports that Florida’s “citrus and other fruits and vegetables appear to have weathered the [recent] cold snap.” Despite recent showers, Florida’s topsoil moisture was reported as 55% very short to short on February 17, while half (50%) of the state’s pastures were rated very poor to poor.

Outlook: Cold weather will continue to dominate much of the nation, except for some late-week warmth across the Deep South. Meanwhile, a complex storm system emerging from the Southwest will provide the majority of the mid- to late-week precipitation. Significant snow can be expected from the central Plains into the middle Mississippi Valley, while freezing rain will affect portions of the Mid-South. Elsewhere, showers and thunderstorms will sweep across the southern Plains and into the Southeast, where storm-total rainfall could reach 2 to 5 inches. Liquid totals (rain and melted snow) of 0.5 to 1.5 inches should provide drought relief on the central and southern Plains. Toward week’s end, storminess will increase across the Northwest, with snow overspreading the northern Plains during the weekend. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for February 25 – March 1 calls for near- to belownormal temperatures nationwide, except for warmer-than-normal weather in the lower Great Lakes region and the Atlantic Coast States. Meanwhile, below-normal precipitation across much of the western half of the U.S. will contrast with wetter-than-normal conditions from the Mississippi River to the East Coast.

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