In the West, precipitation has spread as far inland as the northern Rockies and as far south as northern California. Precipitation is especially beneficial in northern California, where high-elevation snow packs are only about one-third of the mid-March normal. Cool weather accompanies the Pacific Northwestern storminess.

On the Plains, dry weather accompanies record-setting warmth. Today’s high temperatures will approach 90°F on the southern Plains. The warm weather is promoting rapid winter wheat growth, but increasing stress in areas—such as the southern High Plains—where inadequate soil moisture reserves exist.

In the Corn Belt, warm, dry weather prevails. Across the southern and eastern Corn Belt, soft red winter wheat is developing rapidly under a regime of above-normal temperatures and abundant soil moisture.

In the South, localized lowland flooding persists in Louisiana. Farther east, scattered rain showers dot the southern Atlantic States, although Florida’s peninsula remains extremely dry. In Georgia, 69% of the peaches were blooming on March 11, compared to the 5-year average of 23%.

Outlook: Western storminess will persist for much of the week, with significant drought relief expected in California’s key watershed areas. During the next 5 days, precipitation totals could reach 4 to 10 inches in the Sierra Nevada, while 2- to 4-inch amounts will be common from the Pacific Northwest into the northern Rockies. Farther east, unseasonably warm weather will continue into next week from the Plains to the Atlantic Seaboard. High temperatures will frequently exceed 80°F as far north as the central Plains and Mid-Atlantic States. During the latter half of the week, generally light rain will develop across the South, East, and lower Midwest. Late-week totals of an inch or greater may occur from the Mid-South into the Ohio Valley. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for March 18-22 calls for above-normal temperatures from the Plains to the East Coast, while cooler-than-normal weather will be confined to areas west of the Rockies. Meanwhile, near- to above-normal precipitation across the majority of the nation will contrast with drier-than-normal conditions in the East.