A power-house Winter storm winds its way across the Heartland; cold wave following

Across the Corn Belt, a strong low-pressure system crossing the middle Mississippi Valley is producing wind-driven snow from Nebraska to Lake Michigan.  Blizzard conditions in Iowa and environs are causing travel disruptions and increasing stress on livestock, especially since Friday’s storm is occurring just days after the previous snowfall, which peaked on January 9.  Frigid, blustery conditions trail the storm, while mild, rainy weather is overspreading the Ohio Valley.  

On the Plains, the coldest air of the season is arriving on gusty, northwesterly winds.  Early Friday, temperatures plunged below -20°F in parts of Montana, while sub-zero readings covered western Nebraska.  Across the northern High Plains, some winter wheat fields lack a protective snow cover, increasing of risk of winterkill.  Farther south, most areas from South Dakota to Kansas have enough snow on the ground to help insulate winter wheat.  However, the central Plains’ combination of blowing snow, gusty winds, and falling temperatures is resulting in increased livestock stress.  

In the South, heavy showers and locally severe thunderstorms are sweeping eastward from the lower Mississippi Valley.  Cooler air is overspreading the western Gulf Coast region, while warm, humid weather prevails across Florida.  Crops being actively planted and harvested in southern Florida include green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, and sweet corn. 

In the West, cold, snowy, breezy weather lingers from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Rockies.  Blizzard conditions are being observed in parts of southern Idaho.  Cold but dry weather blankets the remainder of the western U.S.  Freezes were noted early Friday in parts of the Desert Southwest and California’s San Joaquin Valley.

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