The key elements setting up the major rain event for the central Plains wheat belt continue to develop about as expected from early this week. The main driving force for this weather system will be the formation of a short wave ridge over the eastern Midwest. This ridge in turn becomes a blocking feature for central U.S. weather. This forces the trough currently deepening over the Rockies to first drop southward and to then move very slowly into the Plains winter wheat belt.
Winds ahead of the western trough and behind the Midwest ridge will turn from the south and even southeast. This allows Gulf moisture to flow back to meet the surface features over the Plains wheat belt, a dry line and a surface cold front. The slow movement of the upper level trough will lead to an extended period with the risk and chance for rain and thunderstorms in the Plains wheat belt. This means several rounds of showers and thunderstorms will develop and move across the region. The first of this activity is likely to be later Friday and during Friday night, and will center on the northwest to west-central growing areas. The later bands of thunderstorms will hit west, central and east areas during the weekend, with some rain continuing into early next week.
The current rainfall forecasts continues to suggest that rain amounts on the order of 1.00-3.00 inches will be very common with very high coverage. There will also be many who see rainfall totals in the 3.00 to 5.00 inch range. The coverage of this type of rain will be somewhat less but this will still occur in key growing areas. There may even be some that see more than 5.00 inches. Heavy rain coming in this short of a window may mean local flooding for some and the presence of a dry line could mean severe weather for some as well. This would include the chance for hail, high winds and tornadoes.
Local flooding and severe weather may cause problems for some wheat areas. However, the overall crop will benefit much more from the rain than it will be hurt by the local flooding or severe weather. Rain at this time, following the recent extended dry spell for key growing areas, will be highly beneficial. This should allow for improvement in the overall condition of the wheat crop.
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