In the West, several areas—including northern and central California and the Northwest—remain a hotbed for wildfire activity, despite widely scattered showers. Among reporting states, Oregon led the nation with topsoil moisture rated 85% very short to short on August 18. However, hot, dry conditions also favor Northwestern small grain maturation and harvesting.

On the Plains, a weak cold front is the focus for a few showers, heaviest in eastern Nebraska. Although slightly cooler air trails the front, heat is already returning to Montana’s High Plains. To the south, hot, dry weather continues, maintaining stress on rain-fed cotton and other non-irrigated crops on the southern High Plains.

In the Corn Belt, much-needed rain is aiding corn and soybeans. Currently, some of the heaviest rain is falling in Iowa, southernmost Minnesota, and eastern Nebraska. Prior to the rain, on August 18, topsoil moisture was rated 65% very short to short in Iowa, along with 61% in Illinois, 59% in Wisconsin, and 48% in Minnesota.

In the South, somewhat drier weather prevails, except for lingering clouds and showers in the southern Atlantic States. Southeastern wetness continues to hamper fieldwork, including hay cutting, and threaten crop quality. On August 18, Georgia led the Southeast with topsoil moisture rated 48% surplus, followed by South Carolina (46%), Alabama (34%), North Carolina (32%), and Florida (28%).

Outlook: Late-summer warmth will continue across much of the U.S. During the weekend and early next week, heat will build across the north-central U.S., while somewhat cooler air will overspread areas west of the Rockies. Meanwhile, showers will continue to rotate around a ridge of high pressure centered over the nation’s mid-section. As a result, little or no rain will fall across the central and southern Plains and Mid-South, while 1- to 3-inch totals may occur in the Southwest, Southeast, and far upper Midwest. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for August 27-31 calls for near- to above-normal temperatures nationwide, with the greatest likelihood of hot weather across the northern Plains. Meanwhile, near- to above-normal rainfall across the majority of the nation will contrast with drier-than-normal conditions in the south-central U.S. and the Pacific Northwest.