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WEATHER

Storm Brings Drought Relief to Parts of the Plains

A wild storm, which brought a blizzard and severe thunderstorms this week, also delivered heavy rainfall (and snow) to some very needy areas of the Plains.

The storm has delivered a general swath of 1- to 6-inch rainfall or the liquid equivalent from portions of Wyoming, eastward to Iowa.

Many of these areas, especially locations from the High Plains to the Rockies, have been experiencing building drought since last summer.

There have been improvements in all stages of drought over the much of the middle of the nation. This is the first week in many, where the drought status has improved in more places, rather than worsened.

As of April 9, 2013, the area of the nation experiencing severe drought had slipped to 44 percent, or had improved by about 8 percent. Additional moisture has fallen on some locations since the map was prepared by the USDA and NOAA.

More moisture in the form of rain or snow that slowly melts is needed in the weeks ahead.

There are indications that the weather pattern will continue to oblige for a while longer. Another storm is forecast to bring rain and snow to parts of the Rockies, Plains and Midwest next week. The amount of precipitation and specifically which areas will benefit the most will depend on the track and strength of that storm and other lesser systems.

The storm did not bring benefits to all areas.

According to Agricultural Weather Expert Dale Mohler, "The cold plunge and freeze associated with the storm did cause some damage to the developing winter wheat from southwestern Kansas to the northern Texas Panhandle."

Temperatures dipped into the teens and lower 20s during the last few days of the week in the wake of the storm over the southern High Plains.

In parts of the Southwest, winds associated with the storm this past week raised evaporation rates, which outweighed any moisture that fell.

"With the new series of storms next week, there is concern of another freeze driving into central and southern winter wheat areas," Mohler said.

While wheat is a grass and will generally recover from setbacks and delays such as this, there could be an issue as far as yields are concerned later on.

"This would be especially in cases where the developing head of the wheat may have been damaged," Mohler added.

Look for updates to your local AccuWeather.com forecast, as well as new information on our website by way of blogs, news stories and videos in the coming days on the drought situation and the prospects for more rain, snow, thunderstorms and cold over the Plains.