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U.S. Snow Cover and Drought Update


Spring officially began in the United States on Wednesday, March 20th, but for many in the Midwest and Northeast, temperatures trended 5-15F below normal, making it feel much less like spring. In addition to the colder than normal temperatures, the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast were hit with the 4th Nor’easter of March, dropping snow from DC to New England. For some, this was the largest snow storm of the season, and for others, this was the largest accumulation for a late March snow storm with multiple areas receiving over a foot of snow. While March’s sun angle will certainly help to melt this new snowfall faster, several key growing states remain snow-covered. All of the Northeast has snow on the ground. In the Mid-Atlantic, snow cover extends down to northern North Carolina and west into eastern Indiana. As we keep heading out into the Plains, much of Minnesota, North Dakota, and northern South Dakota and Wisconsin are each covered in snow. In all, about 30.7% of the US has snow on the ground as of March 22nd. The same date last year, only 14.8% of the country was covered, with minimal amounts in Minnesota and the Dakotas, and no coverage from Iowa to western Pennsylvania.

Drought conditions continue to plague portions of the South Central and Southwestern US. While there was minimal expansion from the previous week, there was also little to no improvement in conditions as well. As the days start to get warmer, the US red winter wheat crop will begin to exit dormancy. The persistent dry conditions in some of the key growing states, such as Kansas, are certainly a concern for the health of the crop as it resumes growth. As of March 22nd, only 1.2% of the state of Kansas is considered drought-free. 19.3% of the state, mainly the southwestern part, is experiencing extreme to exceptional drought conditions. Much of central Kansas (around 36.9% of the state) is in severe drought, while the remaining 42.6% of the state is either in moderate drought or experiencing abnormal dryness. For the state as a whole, the remainder of the month is forecast to be much drier than last year, yet only slightly drier than normal. Eastern Kansas could see some beneficial rainfall early next week, but the driest parts of the state could miss out on the moisture. Looking ahead to April, rainfall in Kansas is projected to be much less than last year, and slightly below normal, but still potentially the 12th wettest April in 27+ years. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a regional forecast and that localized rainfall can and will vary across the state.

Western Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle continue to experience some of the worst drought conditions in the South Central US. Extreme drought conditions have been present for much of these areas since early February, slowly expanding west into New Mexico through March. Eastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas have benefitted from rains in recent weeks which has lifted these areas out of drought. Eastern Oklahoma and Central Texas could receive additional rains over the next 7 days which could help the moderate drought conditions across central Texas. Although some showers are possible, the TX panhandle and western OK look to largely miss out on these rains.

Source: Morning Ag Clips

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