Weather report: Warming trend heating up the Plains

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In the West, above-normal temperatures are prematurely melting mountain snow packs but promoting fieldwork and crop development. Isolated rain and snow showers are mainly confined to the northern half of the region.

On the Plains, mostly dry weather accompanied a warming trend. A few rain showers dot the southeastern Plains. Warmth is especially notable on the High Plains, where today's highs could approach 70°F as far north as western Nebraska. Wheat producers on the southern Plains continue to observe their crop for any indications of freeze damage.

In the Corn Belt, temperatures continue to slowly rebound, but remain at mostly near- to below-normal levels. In addition, breezy conditions have finally subsided. A few rain showers are developing across the southern fringe of the Midwest, mainly in parts of Missouri.

In the South, a variety of freeze warnings and frost a dvisories are in effect this morning from the southern Appalachians to the coastal Carolinas. In most cases, however, Southern temperatures are not as low as those observed earlier this week. Nevertheless, producers con tinue to monitor fruits, winter grains, and emerged summer crops for signs of freeze injury. Mean while, a few showers are developing across the Mid-South.

Outlook: Highlights during the next few days will include locally heavy rain across the South and East, and a new surge of cold air across the Plains and Midwest. Five-day rainfall totals could reach 1 to 3 inches from the Mid- South into the southern Mid-Atlantic States. During the weekend, a Pacific storm could result in more than an inch of precipitation in parts of northern California. In contrast, dry weather will persist into next week in the Southwest. On March 31 and April 1, colder air will engulf the Plains and Midwest. Precipitation, including some snow, will precede and accompany the cold snap. Else where, warmth will continue into next week west of the Rockies. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for April 3-7 calls for below-normal temperatures from the eastern Plains to the Atlantic Seaboard, while warmer-than-normal weather will prevail in the West. Meanwhile, near-to above-normal precipitation across the majority of the nation w ill contrast with drier-than-normal conditions in the southern Rockies and from the Ohio Valley into the lower Great Lakes region.

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