Largely fair, mild weather on much of the Plains; still unsettled in parts of the eastern Corn Belt

Across the Corn Belt, a cold front stretching from Michigan to Missouri is producing widespread rain showers and a few thunderstorms.  Warmth lingers across the Ohio Valley, while cooler weather in the upper Midwest is replacing record-setting warmth.  Prior to this rain event, surface dryness had developed during a drier-than-normal February in parts of the central and eastern Corn Belt; on February 25, for example, topsoil moisture in Illinois was rated 29% very short to short.  

On the Plains, dry weather prevails, aside from a few snow showers in the Dakotas.  Chilly conditions linger across the northern Plains, while near- or above-normal temperatures prevail on the central and southern Plains.  Assessment and recovery efforts continue in areas of the southern Plains—primarily across the northern panhandle of Texas—scorched by recent wildfires, including the Smokehouse Creek Fire (1.08 million acres) and the Windy Deuce Fire (144,000 acres).

In the South, warm weather prevails, despite encroaching storminess.  Showers and thunderstorms have developed in several areas, mainly along the Gulf Coast and in advance of a cold front stretching from the Ozark Plateau to eastern Texas.  The rain is slowing fieldwork but generally benefiting pastures and newly planted summer crops, including corn.  Statewide in Texas, 14% of the intended corn acreage had been planted by March 3. 

In the West, a new round of stormy weather is pushing inland across northern California and southern Oregon, extending inland across the northern Intermountain region.  Snow-clearing efforts continue in the several Western ranges, including the Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades.  Meanwhile, water-supply prospects in California have been bolstered by late-season storminess that in the last week has added an average of at least 6 inches of liquid to the Sierra Nevada snowpack. 

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