Beneficial moisture on parts of the northern, central Plains
Across the Corn Belt, thunderstorms pepper areas west of the Mississippi River. The rain is halting fieldwork but boosting soil moisture in previously dry areas of the western Corn Belt. On April 24, Nebraska led the Midwest with topsoil moisture rated 82% very short to short. Meanwhile, cool conditions linger across the northern and eastern Corn Belt, where planting has been delayed by cool soils and wet fields. Frost was noted this morning in parts of Michigan and Ohio.
On the Plains, a low-pressure system centered over eastern Colorado and western Kansas is resulting in cool, stormy weather across the northern half of the region. In stark contrast, hot, dry weather covers roughly the southern half of the Plains, where Friday’s high temperatures should range from 85 to 95°F. As winds increase and humidity levels drop across the parched southern High Plains, there is an acute risk of dangerous and fast-spreading wildfires.
In the South, frost was reported early Friday in parts of Virginia. Elsewhere, mostly dry weather—accompanied by a warming trend—favors an acceleration of previously delayed fieldwork. Through April 24, only 26% of the intended U.S. rice acreage had been planted, a record-slow pace for this century (previously, 34% in 2019). Friday’s high temperatures should range from 85 to 90°F in the western Gulf Coast region.
In the West, near- or below-normal temperatures prevail, except for lingering warmth in the southern Rockies. Rain and snow showers are generally confined to the northern Rockies. New Mexico remains one of the driest places in the U.S., with more than two-thirds (68%) of the state experiencing extreme to exceptional drought (D3 to D4), according to the April 26 U.S. Drought Monitor. The nation’s two largest active wildfires—the Hermits Peak and Cooks Peak Fires— have scorched well over 50,000 acres of vegetation apiece in northeastern New Mexico.