Weather varies for January across the Heartland
Across the Corn Belt, cold, breezy weather prevails. In addition, snow showers are occurring downwind of the Great Lakes, especially across Michigan. Friday morning’s low temperatures fell below 0° in parts of the upper Midwest, including large sections of Minnesota.
On the Plains, patchy snow is falling across the northern half of the region, where cooler weather prevails. Despite Friday’s flurries and snow showers, most of the Plains’ winter wheat remains devoid of a protective snow cover. During the first 3 weeks of January, temperatures averaged 10 to 20° above normal across much of Montana and the Dakotas.
In the South, a broad area of rain stretches from the central Gulf Coast to the southern Atlantic States, excluding Florida’s peninsula. Parts of Florida’s peninsula have begun to dry out, with statewide topsoil moisture—as reported by USDA/NASS—rated 28% very short to short on January 17. On the same date, Florida’s pastures were rated 21% very poor to poor, in part due to seasonal decline related to “short days and [periods of] cold weather.”
In the West, a storm system drifting southward across coastal northern California is resulting in unsettled weather (rain and snow showers) in parts of California, Oregon, the northern Great Basin, and the northern Intermountain West. Chilly weather accompanies the Western storm, helping to lower snow levels to around 4,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada. Prior to the recent onset of stormy weather, the average water equivalency of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snowpack stood at 6 inches—just 40% of normal for this time of year.