By Sam Nelson
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Midday forecasts called for slightly wetter weather in parts of the Midwest, but much of the region will still face relentless heat and dryness, trimming corn and soybean crop prospects, meteorologists said.
"The 1- to 5-day (forecast) is slightly wetter in Michigan, northern Indiana and northwestern Ohio," said Paul Markert, meteorologist for Cropcast.
The 6- to 10-day projection was drier for the southwestern Corn Belt and the northern Delta, with no changes to earlier scorching temperature forecasts.
Markert said the 11- to 15-day forecast was wetter for the southwestern section of the Midwest.
Drew Lerner, meteorologist for World Weather Inc in Kansas City said midday models suggested there may be more rain in the Corn Belt and parts of the northern Delta over the next 15 days.
Temperatures could be slightly cooler if the rain indeed develops. But if it does not, then temperatures could remain high, according to Lerner.
Rainfall totals could be 1 to 3 inches in Nebraska, Iowa and northern Missouri, with less in Illinois, and most of the rain will fall from July 9 through 12.
Lerner forecast more rain may come to the Delta and move into Illinois and Indiana from July 14 through 17.
"If the model is right, we get significant rains in Nebraska, Iowa and parts of northern Missouri and even a portion of Illinois. Then we turn right around and get rain increasing in the last days of the run from the Delta into Illinois and Indiana," Lerner said.
Rain anytime soon would help late-planted and later pollinating corn, and give a bigger boost to soybeans which is poised to enter its key pod-setting stage of development later this summer.
But both crops should stay under significant stress from the heat and dryness.
"We're still looking at a scenario providing below-average rainfall for at least the next 10 days," said John Dee of Global Weather Monitoring.
A few storm systems over the weekend brought light and isolated heavy rainfall to parts of the Midwest, "mostly along I-80," he said, referring to the interstate highway. But "a good chunk of the Midwest had no rain," he added.
In contrast, violent storms killed at least 15 people and knocked out power to more than 3 million customers in the Mid-Atlantic states on the East Coast during the weekend. These storms became fierce only after leaving the cropland of the central U.S.
For the Midwest, temperatures will remain in the 90s to low 100s degrees Fahrenheit for most of this week, cooling a bit into the 80s and low 90s by the weekend, Dee predicted.
"There may be a few spotty showers in the north and east today and the far north by midweek," he said.
By the weekend, rainfall of 0.25 to 0.75 inch can be expected, with isolated heavier amounts with 70 to 75 percent coverage.
The lingering dryness and this week's turn to extreme heat was harming the corn and soybean crops, especially corn which is entering its critical pollination or reproductive stage of development.
(Reporting by Sam Nelson; Additional reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by John Picinich)