Strong Weekend Plains Storm System

This will be a very good storm for the Northern Plains region, bringing much-needed precipitation. An area that has been in drought for roughly a year could stand to see some heavy precipitation. With a lot of this producing runoff, it will not eliminate drought, which will take more than just this one event. But for winter wheat that is coming out of dormancy in a drought, it will be very welcome.

For the rest of the Central and Southern Plains, the moderate to heavy rain may come with severe thunderstorms. This early in the year it is typically hail and gusty winds that occur and cause damage rather than tornadoes. But we could see all modes of severe weather with this dynamic storm, and across a wide area.

The system will continue northeastward through the Midwest and may bring some good snowfall to South Dakota and Minnesota, or possibly even Iowa and eastern Nebraska, which all are areas that need precipitation. There is quite a bit of uncertainty for the Western Corn Belt and will require further model runs to home in on.

Following the snow will be below-normal temperatures in the Plains, not uncommon for fresh snowfall, especially in March. Winter wheat may see some issues due to the snow and cold, but more than likely the snow will provide good cover against the freeze, insulating it from the harshest effects. But heavy snow of this magnitude could mean a week or more melting, which would have a negative impact on the vulnerable plants.

There are still some rather significant details to work out with this system, but it appears March may have one big storm for the Plains in the books before it runs out. The progressive pattern that models continue to show for the rest of March would point to more storms but be more of the weaker variety.

However, as we have seen with the coming storm this weekend, we should not rule out the possibility of another major storm this month. However, I am not too optimistic for this to occur, given the pattern.

John Baranick can be reached at

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