With the jet stream remaining active, pieces of energy moving through the country will have a more dynamic environment to produce strong storms. This includes moderate to heavy snow across the north and moderate to heavy thunderstorms and rainfall along cold fronts. This is similar to the central U.S. storm earlier this week.
One such storm is expected to move through the West on Jan. 27 and emerge into the Plains Jan. 30. This system will be a good precipitation producer for the eastern half of the Plains and points eastward. Another will come through the pipeline a few days later next week.
This is good news on the precipitation scene. As of Jan. 19, over 63% of the contiguous U.S. was in some sort of dryness and 45% was in drought. Heavy precipitation earlier this week hit some of the drought areas in Kansas and Nebraska and in the Midwest. Some of the Intermountain West region in drought also received precipitation. A continued parade of storms will give multiple chances for drought areas in the Central and Southern Plains to bring further drought easing.
Winter wheat ratings released earlier this week showed a continued decline of from two to three percentage points in the total of good or excellent in the Central and Southern Plains. Oklahoma has fared better with recent rainfall and gained nine points in its good to excellent total to 61% good to excellent. Precipitation during this La Nina event will be very important. Soil moisture gains will have a positive effect on the wheat once it comes out of dormancy.
One area that will be adversely affected will be the Northern Plains. The entire region is rated in at least D0 (abnormal dryness) or worse. With storm systems traveling just to the south, the region will see very little precipitation and the drought will likely deepen during the next 10 days. Longer-range forecasts suggest that the region stays on the drier end of normal through February and likely March as well.
John Baranick can be reached at email@example.com
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