Commodity Weather Group meteorologist Joel Widenor says heavy rainfall headed for the U.S. Delta should bring improve soil moisture for the Southern Plains slightly, but adds only very light showers are expected in the drought areas of the Midwest and Central Plains. The strong storm system was to begin late Tuesday and push into Missouri and Illinois by Thursday. According to meteorologist Don Keeney, Arkansas, Louisiana and east Texas can expect 2-4 inches of rain. Oklahoma will likely see 1 inch or less.
Keeney is also concerned about threats of winterkill in the Plains winter wheat region. He says warmer weather in the U.S. Plains this week will melt snowcover and leave the hard red winter crop unprotected against a cold snap. He said western Nebraska and northern Colorado could see temperature readings of 0 degrees to less than 0, which is on the winterkill threshold. However meteorologists at the Commodity Weather Group do not share the same concern.
According to last week’s drought monitor, snowfall in parts of the Plains had little impact on the historic drought. Parts of Illinois, Wisconsin and the Southeast did show slight improvement however. As of January 1, the report issued last Thursday said 42.05% of the U.S. was in severe to exceptional drought. That was down from 42.45% the previous week.