Heat wave conditions again build on the northern Plains
Across the Corn Belt, mild, dry weather prevails. Wednesday’s high temperatures should range from 75°F in portions of the Great Lakes region to near 90°F in the southern and western Corn Belt. In drier areas of the western Corn Belt, little or no rain has fallen since at least July 15, leading to concerns for reproductive corn and soybeans.
On the Plains, a heat wave continues in Montana, the Dakotas, and environs. High temperatures could reach 100°F later Wednesday as far north as eastern Montana. Spring-sown crops such as barley and wheat continue to progress through the grain-fill stage of development under highly unfavorable (hot, dry) conditions. Meanwhile on the central and southern Plains, warm, dry weather and generally abundant soil moisture reserves favor summer crop growth.
In the South, unsettled, showery weather persists from coastal Texas to the southern Atlantic States. On July 18, USDA/NASS topsoil moisture was rated more than 20% surplus in Georgia and each of the Gulf Coast States from Louisiana to Florida, led by Alabama (39% surplus). Although the wetness has slowed fieldwork and has caused pockets of lowland flooding, pastures and most summer crops continue to grow well, aided by favorable temperatures.
In the West, monsoon-related showers are heaviest across Arizona but extend northeastward across the central Rockies. Hot, dry weather persists, however, in much of California, the Great Basin, and the Northwest, where dozens of wildfires are actively burning—and new fires could be ignited by dry thunderstorms. Wildfire smoke is degrading air quality in many areas of the country, well outside the West. In southern Oregon, the nation’s largest active wildfire—the lightning-sparked Bootleg Fire—has consumed more than 388,000 acres of vegetation and has destroyed at least 184 structures.