Intensifying Winter pattern across much of the Heartland


Intensifying Winter pattern across much of the Heartland

Across the Corn Belt, a developing storm system is producing widespread precipitation, including upper Midwestern snow.  Early Tuesday, the rain-snow line lies across southern Iowa and northern Illinois.  Elsewhere, steady rain is overspreading the southern Corn Belt.  Tuesday’s high temperatures will remain below 10°F in the Red River Valley of the North—but could rise to 65°F or higher in the lower Ohio Valley.

On the Plains, bitterly cold air remains in place across parts of Montana and the Dakotas, where Tuesday’s high temperatures will locally remain below 0°F.  Meanwhile, record-setting warmth lingers across the southeastern Plains, where Tuesday’s high temperatures should range from 65 to 80°F.  Critically dry conditions persist across the southern half of the High Plains, maintaining stress on winter wheat, as well as an elevated wildfire threat.  In some locations across the southern High Plains, including Amarillo and Borger, Texas, there has been no precipitation since October 12.

In the South, record-setting warmth favors growth of pastures and winter grains, except in areas—such as the Carolinas— where drought is limiting development.  The warm, dry conditions also favor off-season farm activities.  Tuesday’s high temperatures will generally range from 70 to 80°F—but should approach 90°F in the lower Rio Grande Valley.

In the West, cold, unsettled weather prevails.  As the cold conditions become more entrenched, mountain snow is becoming powdery and accumulating more efficiently.  According to the California Department of Water Resources, the average water equivalency of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snowpack stood at nearly 14 inches by December 27, more than 150% of average for this time of year and nearly 50% of the typical accumulation for an entire season.