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Warmer temperatures in forecast

We’re almost a month into spring, but it has been feeling like winter across parts of the U.S.

I’ve seen numerous reports from Facebook friends who live in the northern parts of the country wondering when winter will be gone. They have clearly had enough of the snow and cold weather.

Not very typical of mid-April, but blizzard conditions were reported in North Dakota on Monday. Heavy snows were also observed in southern Idaho, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming.

Hard freezes are possible as far south as the Texas/Oklahoma panhandle regions on Friday. Readings in the teens and single digits were observed near the U.S.-Canada border earlier in the week.

In the Inland Northwest, believe it or not, our average temperature for the first 15 days of April has been about 1.2 degrees above normal. Over the past week, we’ve had very chilly weather with high temperatures approximately 10 degrees below average levels. However, our region had highs in the 60s with a 70 degree reading on April 1. Precipitation has been near normal with 0.69 inches of moisture since April 1.

The latest computer forecast models point to warmer temperatures over the next few weeks. There will be occasional showers, mixed in with some sunshine. As milder air moves into the region, the chances for thunderstorm activity will increase toward the end of the month and much of May.

Although many of us dealing with wintry weather are waiting for more springlike patterns, drought conditions persist from California to the Great Plains. This is caused from a high pressure ridge that has been centered over much of the southwestern U.S. over the past few months. We’re already seeing early-season dust storms from Colorado into Arizona.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate drought conditions to abnormally dry regions are still being reported in Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, and parts of Nebraska, the Dakotas, Missouri and Iowa. The latest figures still show “extreme” to “exceptional” drought conditions across much of the Great Plains, where many of our crops are grown, despite some recent moisture over the northern areas.

Many forecasters believe that the drought in California and the southwestern U.S. will migrate to the east over the Great Plains later in the spring and summer, bringing much warmer and drier weather. If these areas continue to have more dry weather during the critical planting and pollination stages of crop development, then food prices could go up.

Updates are posted at longrangeweather.