Fair, chilly weather covers the Heartland

Across the Corn Belt, breezy, dry weather prevails, aside from a few snow showers in the upper Great Lakes region.  Although cool weather covers much of the Midwest, warmth is starting to overspread the western Corn Belt.  Later Tuesday, maximum temperatures should approach 70°F in the middle Mississippi Valley.

On the Plains, temperatures are quickly rebounding to near- or above-normal levels.  Later Tuesday, high temperatures should reach 65°F or higher from Nebraska southward.  Dry weather throughout the region favors spring fieldwork, including planting activities in parts of Texas.  On March 17, more than one-third (34%) of the intended corn acreage had been planted in Texas, along with 27% of the sorghum. 

In the South, Freeze Warnings were in effect early Tuesday into southern sections of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, excluding areas along the Gulf Coast.  The cold weather poses a threat to a variety of crops, including blooming fruit trees and winter grains, as well as ornamentals and nursery crops.  By March 17 in Texas, 13% of the winter wheat had headed, all in the southern part of the state—an area not affected by sub-freezing temperatures.

In the West, any lingering precipitation is confined to east-central Arizona and west-central New Mexico.  Elsewhere, warm, dry weather prevails, with record-setting high temperatures continuing in parts of the Northwest.  Cotton seeding is underway in Arizona, with 2% of the intended acreage planted by March 17.

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