By Sam Nelson
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Crop-friendly snowfall and some showers were moving across the U.S. Southwest Plains on Tuesday which will help but not eliminate the harmful impact on wheat production from the worst drought in over 50 years, an agricultural meteorologist said.
"It's beginning to snow in the Southwest Plains this morning and that will continue through the day leaving 2.00 to 6.00 inches there," said Don Keeney, meteorologist for MDA EarthSat Weather.
Keeney said it would turn dry in the Plains the remainder of the week while showers would move into the Delta as far east as Kentucky. "It will turn colder next week but there is no threat of winterkill, just more seasonable cold weather," he said.
Commodity Weather Group (CWG) on Tuesday said rain and snow was falling in northern Texas and southern and western Oklahoma on Tuesday morning.
"These showers will continue in Texas and Oklahoma today, with a chance for Plains showers to shift northward into Kansas and Colorado," said CWG forecaster Joel Widenor.
"This will bring some minor drought relief, but much more is needed."
Harsh drought conditions expanded in key U.S. farm states in the nation's midsection over the last week, climate experts said on Thursday.
There has been some recent precipitation through the Plains region but the frozen ground did not allow for much moisture to penetrate into parched soils, according to the Drought Monitor report, a weekly analysis of drought conditions put together by a consortium of state and federal climate experts.
The Plains states are key crop production areas, particularly for hard red winter wheat, an important bread-making crop. They are also critical areas for cattle and other livestock production.
Kansas continued to suffer from extreme drought.
(Additional reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)