Meteorologists See Possibility for Modest Drought Relief

An agricultural meteorologist says heavy rainfall is headed for the U.S. Delta - extending into central Texas. Commodity Weather Group meteorologist Joel Widenor says the rain should bring improve soil moisture for the Southern Plains slightly - but says only very light showers are expected in the drought areas of the Midwest and Central Plains. The strong storm system was to begin late Tuesday and push into Missouri and Illinois by Thursday. According to meteorologist Don Keeney - Arkansas, Louisiana and east Texas can expect two to four-inches of rain. Oklahoma will likely see an inch or less. Keeney is also concerned about threats of winterkill in the Plains winter wheat region. He says warmer weather in the U.S. Plains this week will melt snowcover and leave the hard red winter crop unprotected against a cold snap. He said western Nebraska and northern Colorado could see temperature readings of zero degrees to below zero - which is on the winterkill threshold. Meteorologists at the Commodity Weather Group do not share the same concern.

According to last week's drought monitor - snowfall in parts of the Plains had little impact on the historic drought. Parts of Illinois, Wisconsin and the Southeast did show slight improvement however. As of January 1 - the report issued last Thursday said 42.05-percent of the contiguous U.S. was in severe to exceptional drought. That was down from 42.45 the previous week.

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