February weather across west and south Russia and Ukraine featured below normal rainfall for much of the region, but especially for the area from central Ukraine eastward to south Russia. This included areas which received less than 50 percent of normal for the month, and even some less than 25 percent of normal. In addition to the drier than normal weather, we also note above normal Temperatures occurred during February. The winter as a whole has featured below normal precipitation and above normal temperatures across the region. This leaves most areas in need of rain during the spring to ensure favorable soil moisture for winter grain development and the early needs of spring grains, particularly wheat. As we began the month of March, the warm and dry pattern continued, and most of this area showed little to no snow cover. Reports suggest that the winter grains were breaking dormancy well ahead of normal dates. This area has seen somewhat colder weather and light precipitation during the mid-March period, but probably not enough to ease concerns. The short range forecast calls for mostly light precipitation from the Black Soils region and Ukraine into the south Russia area during the next 24 to 48 hours. Temperatures will turn somewhat colder during this period. The longer-range forecast charts show upper-level high pressure (a ridge) rebuilding over the area, which will promote a new round of much warmer and drier weather at the end of this week and during the coming weekend. As we look toward the 6-10 day period, we see some tendency for a high pressure ridge over central and eastern Europe. This will likely force systems to move well north through Scandinavia before dropping southward over western Russia and Ukraine. This likely means a somewhat variable temperature pattern, but with a trend towards above normal temperatures. The rainfall chances would be limited under this type of storm track. The source for moisture for weather systems in Ukraine and south Russia would normally be the Black Sea or the Mediterranean Sea. The far-north track of lows makes it more difficult for significant moisture to be drawn into these systems as they move through. The warmer pattern in Ukraine and west Russia appears reluctant to change at this point. It will be interesting to see what changes lie ahead during the late spring and early summer period.
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