A barge moves through the shrunken Mississippi River. The Mississippi River's level dropped to historic lows in 2012, and barge industry trade groups warned that river commerce could essentially come to a halt in an area south of St. Louis. Photo: Derik Holtmann / Belleville News-Democrat / AP photo

By Sam Nelson, with additional reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe
28 January 2013

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Dry weather continues to plague the drought-stricken U.S. Plains and western Midwest with only light showers and snowfall expected this week, an agricultural meteorologist said on Monday.

"The Plains and the northwest Midwest will still struggle with drought, there's not a whole lot of relief seen," said John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring.

Dee said there would be some light rain in the eastern portions of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas late Monday and Tuesday, with heavier rainfall seen for the eastern and southeastern Midwest late Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Roughly east of a line from Kansas City to Chicago will receive 0.50 inch to 1.00 inch or more, but they aren't as affected by the drought at this time," Dee said.

Commodity Weather Group (CWG) said light showers fell over the weekend across the Central Plains and much of the Midwest and northern Delta. "Scattered amounts of 0.10 to 0.40 inch were noted for drought areas from Nebraska and northern Kansas into southern Minnesota and Iowa," said CWG meteorologist Joel Widenor.

"While very light showers are also possible in parts of Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota tonight and again next week, none of this will be significant enough to put much of a dent in the drought," he said.

Without rain or heavy snow before spring, millions of acres of wheat could be ruined while corn and soybean seedings could be threatened in the western Midwest, meteorologists and other crop experts have said.

A climatology report issued last Thursday said there were no signs of improvement for Kansas or neighboring farm states. [more]

Drought seen worsening in U.S. Plains and west Midwest

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