Cool, dry air overspread the northern Plains and Upper Midwest. A lack of heat stress and abundant soil moisture continued to favor Midwestern corn and soybeans, although below-normal temperatures remained a concern with respect to crop development across the northern Corn Belt. The record-setting cool surge held weekly temperatures at least 10° F below normal across portions of the central and southern Plains and western Corn Belt.
Widespread showers and thunderstorms across the South and East preceded and accompanied a push of unusually cool air. Weekly rainfall totals of 2-4 inches or more were common from Oklahoma and Texas eastward, as well as along the Atlantic Seaboard. Showers were especially beneficial in the Southeast, which had trended dry in recent weeks. On the southern High Plains, rain provided additional relief from a drought that began nearly 4 years ago.
Meanwhile, mostly dry weather, lightning strikes and record-setting heat set the stage for explosive wildfire activity in the Northwest. Weekly readings averaged at least 10° F above normal in parts of the northern Great Basin and the interior Northwest. By July 20, the Buzzard complex in eastern Oregon had charred nearly 400,000 acres, while the Carlton complex in northern Washington had destroyed more than 150 homes and consumed almost 240,000 acres of timber and brush.
Elsewhere, Southwestern shower activity – heaviest in parts of Arizona and the central and southern Rockies – subsided and shifted eastward during the mid- to late-week period.
All graphics courtesy of USDA, NOAA, Department of Commerce