Largely dry weather across the Heartland; Seasonally chilly for some, mild for others

Across the Corn Belt, cool, dry weather prevails.  Freezes were noted Thursday morning throughout the Midwest, with temperatures falling below 10°F in parts of Minnesota and the Dakotas.  Snow remains on the ground in much of the upper Midwest, resulting in some rural travel disruptions.  In North Dakota, lambing was 50% complete by March 24, while calving was 31% complete.

On the Plains, cold conditions persist in most areas.  Thursday morning’s minimum temperatures fell below 10°F in parts of the Dakotas and dipped to 32°F or below as far south as Oklahoma and the northern panhandle of Texas.  However, mild, breezy conditions are developing on the northern High Plains, in advance of approaching Pacific storminess.  Between late-November 2023 and late-March 2024, winter wheat rated in good to excellent condition significantly increased in Kansas (from 32 to 53%), Nebraska (from 49 to 66%), and Oklahoma (from 53 to 70%), reflecting improved moisture.

In the South, scattered frost was observed Thursday morning at some interior locations, extending as far south as the Tennessee Valley.  Cool, dry weather covers the remainder of the region, except for lingering rain along the Atlantic Seaboard.  Except in areas that are wet from recent rainfall, fieldwork in proceeding, with 20% of the intended rice acreage in Texas planted by March 24.

In the West, rain and snow showers extend inland from northern California and the Pacific Northwest to the northern Rockies.  With snow-water equivalencies less than 70% of the late-March average in much of Montana and Washington, as well as northeastern Wyoming, late-season precipitation is helping to improve Northwestern water-supply prospects for the 2024 growing season.

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