CHICAGO (Reuters) - Rains return to the U.S. Midwest this week, increasing the risk of more farms flooding along the Missouri River and add to slowdowns in moving grain by rail, a forecaster said on Tuesday.
"At this point most of the planting is done -- you have to be concerned of the increase river flood potential with the levy breaking at Hamburg (Iowa) yesterday," said Mike Palmerino, forecaster with Telvent DTN weather service.
Heavy winter snowmelt feeding the Missouri River's headwaters in the Rocky Mountains, as well as heavy spring rains, have caused historic flooding with tens of thousands of acres of cropland at risk from Montana to Iowa. Soggy rail beds have also caused big delays in rail shipments.
"The flooded Missouri flows into the Mississippi River. It's dicey especially with more rains coming today," Palmerino said.
Up to 1.5 inch (38 mm) of rain is forecast for the Corn Belt over the next two days, starting in the west and moving eastward. That comes on top of heavy rains, up to 4 inches in western Illinois on Monday, Palmerino said.
Another 0.3 to 1.5 inch was forecast for Friday to Saturday beltwide.
The Northern Plains spring wheat and corn country also stays wet with another 0.25 to 1.0 inch expected on Tuesday and up to 2 inches forecast for the weekend.
In contrast, the southern Corn Belt stays hot and dry as highs soar to 98 to 105 Fahrenheit (37 to 40 Celsius).
"I'm hearing more reports they are losing corn in the South," Palmerino said.
The six to 10-day Midwest outlook, Sunday to Thursday, called for normal to above-normal temperatures early in the period, cooling later. The rainfall was expected to be normal to above.
(Reporting by Christine Stebbins; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)