Arctic Air Spreading South

Of particular note is a cold front slated to develop this coming weekend. This will pull down even more cold Arctic air into the north, and push the front into the Gulf of Mexico so that most of the country east of the Rockies will be feeling the bitter cold. Average temperatures across the Plains and Midwest are forecast to be 20 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit below normal Feb. 13-15. High temperatures are unlikely to rise into positive territory for a good portion of the northern tier. Temperatures are expected to moderate after that but still remain below normal through at least Feb. 19.

Low temperatures will likely fall below zero while high temperatures may not make it into the 10s Fahrenheit for much of the Plains or Midwest, including winter wheat areas. For areas that are exposed, mostly in the southwest Plains and far southern Midwest, there will be increased risk for winterkill.

Even light winds will create dangerous wind chills, increasing stress to livestock and newborn calves and lambs. Increased inputs will be required to stave off some of this stress, coming at a time when fuel prices are increasing and grain prices remain at elevated values. Producers will likely feel this Arctic outbreak a bit more than previous years.

Models are mixed about the prospects for remaining below normal after Feb. 19, but at least there is some end to the incredibly cold conditions for a little while.

Forecast models do suggest that another push of Arctic air may be on its way to close out the month and start March as well, but that is expected to occur mostly over the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest as opposed to the majority of the country.

John Baranick can be reached at

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