Following one of the warmest Februarys on record which had trees and flowers budding early, winter is set to make a huge comeback across the eastern U.S. over the next week. Cold and snowy weather, perhaps some of the snowiest weather this season for some places, is set to take over. Freezing temperatures could reach down into the South and across areas where winter wheat has emerged early. Given the warm weather seen in February and the early emergence of wheat in some areas, there is an increased risk of injury to the wheat crop as cold weather sets in.
The mid-March period is forecast to be the coldest in at least a decade for the U.S. as a whole. The wt360 forecast for spring overall calls for a colder season with late season freezes increasing the threat of damage to sensitive vegetation. Freezing temperatures may get very close to the Gulf Coast over the next 7 days as very cold, Arctic air dives south across the eastern U.S.
As cold air arrives, there will be the threat for several snow events across the East. The first event is an Alberta Clipper-type system that will produce an area of generally 1-4’’ of snow from Ohio to Cape Cod late Thursday (March 9th) into Friday (March 10th). The second event will bring snow farther south. The second storm will move out of the Northern Rocky Mountains and into the South spreading a swath of snow from Montana to the Dakotas and southeastward into Missouri, Tennessee, North Carolina and southern Virginia. Finally, the third storm will impact the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast during the middle of next week (March 14-15) and may ramp up into a Nor’easter with strong winds, snow, and rain. This will likely be the snowiest mid-March in at least 3 years for the U.S. as a whole.
Drought conditions expanded in the Plains over the past week where low humidity and windy weather helped to spread deadly wildfires. Grass fires have consumed hundreds of thousands of acres of grazing land in Kansas alone this past week. Unfortunately, the fires have turned deadly both for human and livestock with reports of some cattle farms losing nearly their entire herd. The toll may be even higher than estimates suggest for the cattle herd considering that many cows are typically on the verge of calving in the early spring. Soil moisture is low across a large swath of the Plains and even parts of Florida. The next 7 days won’t offer much in terms of drought relief, although the 7-14 day out period (mid to late March) could bring some above normal precipitation to parts of the Plains. However, with a drier forecast for April, concerns of dry soils for corn planting may begin to arise. Additionally, the lack of a decent snow pack across the northern Plains will also be a headwind for recharging soil moisture this spring, but decreases the threat of flooding.
Conversely, flooding will be a major threat in parts of central and northern California in the months ahead as a very deep snow pack in the mountains and very moist soils in the valleys below create favorable conditions for flooding. Although the frequency and intensity of the storms affecting California have diminished, due in part to our moving towards the typical dry season for the region, there will still be a chance for more storm systems. The next 7 days look to be drier across the state, but the 7-14 day period will bring precipitation back into the forecast primarily for central and northern California.
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