Mid summer-like heat wave centered on the Heartland
Across the Corn Belt, hot weather prevails. Wednesday’s temperatures will approach or reach 95° as far north as the upper Mississippi Valley. Rain is confined to the northern Corn Belt, where severe thunderstorms are possible. Drought continues to plague parts of Iowa, which led the Midwest on August 23 with topsoil moisture rated 76% very short to short.
On the Plains, isolated showers across Montana and the Dakotas are causing only minor small grain harvest delays. Elsewhere, dry weather is promoting fieldwork and summer crop maturation. However, drought continues to adversely affect rangeland, pastures, and immature summer crops across the central and southern High Plains.
In the South, Hurricane Laura is intensifying while approaching the U.S. Gulf Coast. At 8 am Wednesday morning, Laura was centered about 280 miles south-southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, moving toward the northwest at 15 mph. Maximum sustained winds have increased to 115 mph, making Laura a major (category 3) hurricane. Agricultural preparations for Laura include harvesting of crops, such as rice and soybeans, potentially in the path of the storm.
In the West, hot weather is maintaining stress on rangeland and pastures. On August 23, Oregon led the West in rangeland and pastures rated very poor to poor (73%), followed by Wyoming (72%), Colorado (64%), and Arizona (60%). Isolated thundershowers are producing little rain but sparking new wildfires (due to lightning). Currently, there are about 100 Western wildfires, the largest of which is the 366,000-acre SCU Lightning Complex east of San Jose, California.