In the West, mild, dry weather in California and the Southwest contrasts with cool, showery conditions in the Northwest. Southwestern cotton planting and many other spring fieldwork activities are proceeding at a faster-than-normal pace.

On the Plains, freeze warnings are in effect early this morning for the western half of Oklahoma and the northern panhandle of Texas. According to USDA, nearly two-thirds (62%) of Oklahoma’s wheat was jointing by April 4. Typically, wheat that is just starting to joint can withstand temperatures as low as 20 degrees F without freeze injury, but the crop’s tolerance to cold diminishes with each passing spring day. Today’s low temperatures dipped to 26 degrees F at both Amarillo, Texas, and Guymon, Oklahoma.

In the Corn Belt, rain is falling across portions of the Ohio Valley and the Great Lakes region. Despite minor fieldwork delays, the rain is generally beneficial since both regions have recently trended dry.

In the South, cool, dry air trails a cold front in areas from the Delta westward. Showers and thunderstorms accompany the front, which is sweeping across the Southeast. The rain is causing temporary fieldwork delays but providing a beneficial boost in topsoil moisture for summer crop emergence.

Outlook: Precipitation will end on Friday in the East, except for some lingering rain and snow showers from the Great Lakes region into New England. During the weekend, tranquil weather will prevail nearly nationwide. By early next week, however, the first in a series of Pacific storms will arrive in California and spread eastward. In advance of the Pacific storminess, unusual warmth will return to the Plains and Midwest. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for April 13-17 calls for above-normal temperatures across the eastern half of the U.S., except along the Gulf Coast, while cooler-than-normal weather will prevail in the Rio Grande Valley and much of the West. Meanwhile, near- to above-normal precipitation across the western two-thirds of the nation will contrast with drier-than-normal conditions in the East.