USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility says on the Plains, unusually warm weather prevails across the northern half of the region. Later today, high temperatures greater than 60°F will occur as far north as Montana. The early-season warmth is causing wheat to prematurely lose some winter hardiness.
In the West, USDA reports the first in a new series of storms is beginning to affect the Pacific Northwest. Enough cold air remains trapped east of the Cascades to result in some freezing rain, especially across central and eastern Washington. California, excluding the northern coast, remains dry in advance of the approaching storm.
In the Corn Belt, breezy weather prevails in the wake of a departing storm system, USDA notes. A few snow showers are occurring downwind of the Great Lakes, while mild air is spreading across the westernmost Corn Belt.
In the South, clouds linger in the wake of Tuesday's thunderstorms in the western and central Gulf Coast States, USDA states. Meanwhile, rain has shifted eastward and is moving toward the Atlantic Coast. Unfavorably dry conditions persist, however, across much of Florida’s peninsula, where agricultural irrigation continues. Statewide, Florida’s topsoil moisture is 50% very short to short, while pastures are 35% very poor to poor.
In its five-day outlook through Feb. 19, USDA says rain will gradually end later today across the southern Atlantic States, but snow will return to parts of the Northeast and linger into Thursday. Meanwhile, unusually warm, mostly dry weather will prevail during the next five days across the northern and central Plains, the Midwest and the mid-South. Farther west, however, three storms will arrive during the next five days along the Pacific Coast. The first and third storms will primarily affect northern and central California and the Northwest, while the middle storm will take a southern track into central and southern California. Five-day precipitation totals of 2 to 8 inches or more can be expected from the Pacific Coast to the Cascades and Sierra Nevada. By early next week, rain should return to the south-central U.S., USDA concludes.