USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility says in the Corn Belt, temperatures remain nearly ideal for corn and soybeans. However, humidity levels have begun to increase across the western Corn Belt, accompanied by scattered showers and thunder-storms. Pockets of drought persist in the lower Great Lakes region, where topsoil moisture was rated 56% very short to short on July 17 in Ohio, along with 49% in Michigan.
In the South, widely scattered showers are providing local relief to drought-affected areas, although hot weather is offsetting some of the benefit. On July 17, topsoil moisture was rated 44% to 65% very short to short in seven states stretching from Texas to South Carolina.
On the Plains, hot, humid weather has expanded to encompass much of the region. Today’s high temperatures could reach the 100-degree mark as far north as eastern Montana and the western Dakotas. Lingering showers across the northern half of the region are diminishing as hot weather arrives.
In the West, a suddenly active monsoon circulation is resulting in widespread showers in the Four Corners States. Meanwhile, cool weather and isolated showers linger in the Northwest, slowing the winter wheat harvest but benefiting spring-sown crops.
In its outlook, USDA says a large ridge of high pressure will continue to expand northward and eastward from the Great Plains, resulting in some of the year’s hottest, most humid weather. Triple-digit temperatures can be expected to persist through Friday across portions of the Plains and into Saturday in the southern Corn Belt. Heat will linger into early next week across the South. In contrast, cool weather will prevail for much of the week in the Far West. Elsewhere, thunderstorms will remain active around the periphery of the ridge, with 1- to 2-inch totals possible in the Southwest and Southeast. Parts of the Midwest could receive 1 to 3 inches of rain during the next five days. Dry weather will prevail, however, in California, the Great Basin and the south-central U.S.