Mild; still showery across parts of the Heartland
Across the Corn Belt, warm weather favors emergence and growth of recently planted corn and soybeans. Rain showers are occurring in a few areas, including the middle Missouri Valley and portions of the central Corn Belt. In general, some of the driest conditions exist across northern corn and soybean production areas, where topsoil moisture (on May 16) was rated at least 40% very short to short from the Dakotas to Michigan.
On the Plains, drought remains a concern across large sections of Montana and the Dakotas, although cooler air is starting to push southeastward from western Canada. Meanwhile, ongoing showery weather across the central and southern Plains is benefiting rangeland and pastures, winter grains, and spring-sown crops. Still, national conditions for rangeland and pastures (43% very poor to poor), winter wheat (19%), and oats (15%) are lower than at the same time a year ago.
In the South, widespread minor to moderate flooding persists in the western Gulf Coast region, where locally heavy showers continue to fall. May 17-18 rainfall totals included 13.16 inches in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 11.32 inches in Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas. In contrast, dry and increasingly warm weather in the Southeast is reducing topsoil moisture for the germination and establishment of recently planted summer crops.
In the West, a Freeze Warning was in effect early Wednesday across parts of northeastern Washington and northern Idaho. The Northwest is also experiencing a few rain and snow showers. Farther south, dry weather covers the remainder of the West. In addition, triple-digit heat (high temperatures of 100° or greater) persists in the Desert Southwest. On May 16, drought-stricken Arizona led the U.S. in rangeland and pastures rated very poor to poor—88%.