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Temps vary across the Heartland; scattered showers, and snow, in parts of the Corn Belt


Across the Corn Belt, rain showers are primarily affecting areas east of the Mississippi River, extending as far north as the southern tier of Michigan.  Above-normal temperatures throughout the Midwest support off-season farm work in areas where muddy conditions are not impeding activities.  

On the Plains, record-setting warmth has retreated, although temperatures remain above normal for this time of year.  On February 21 in western Texas, temperatures climbed to 85°F—highest readings on record for the date—in Borger and Lubbock.  Daily records were also set on the 21st as far north as North Dakota, where both Bismarck and Jamestown attained 60°F.  The warmth is causing wheat to prematurely lose winter hardiness, especially on the southern Plains. 

In the South, dry weather favors fieldwork, including early-season planting activities from southern and coastal Texas to Florida.  Rangeland and pastures in Texas, still recovering from last summer’s heat and drought, were rated 56% in very poor to poor condition on February 18.  Florida’s pastures were in better shape on that date, rated 14% very poor to poor. 

In the West, mild, mostly dry weather has returned, following a recent spate of storms.  The California Department of Water Resources indicates the average water equivalency of the Sierra Nevada snowpack has risen to 18 inches, about 85% of normal for late February.  Meanwhile, some saturated hillsides in southern California remain unstable, though rain has ended.  Elsewhere, trees are leafing out at a record-early pace in parts of northern California and the Pacific Northwest. 

Temps vary across the Heartland; scattered showers, and snow, in parts of the Corn Belt