US Freezes As South America Swelters

In an extraordinary disparity, winter temperatures in the US have plunged as low as minus 55 degrees, whilst Argentina swelters with temperatures of up to 105. Winter wheat crops ibn the US are under threat from winter kill, whilst soybeans and corn in South America wilt under blazing skies and scant rainfall.

In the US readings of 20 to 30 below zero are common for northern Iowa, western Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the eastern Dakotas. There is still a good deal of wind to go along with that cold, so we continue to see wind chill values in the 35 to 55 below zero range in the coldest areas.

In Chicago itself Thursday's high was minus one. To highlight how rarely temperatures fall this low: of the 50,404 daily high temperatures on record in 139 years of official weather observations, only 44 of them have been at 1 below or lower.

US temperatures are forecast to warm up in the early part of next week, before much colder air comes pouring back into the northwestern Corn Belt and the northwestern Plains by next Thursday.

In Argentina, the hottest and driest summer in over four decades has already reduced the wheat crop to the smallest since 1989. With little respite in the forecast there are now serious fears for soybeans and corn, with crops suffered “irreversible” damage, forecaster Somar Meteorologia said.

Things aren't much better in neighbouring Brazil, where this seasons cron crop could now be as low as 47mmt, 19% down on last season, according to Sao Paulo-based Terra Futuros, the country’s biggest commodities brokerage.

The damage to some southern Brazilian soybean crops can’t now be reversed either because they require rains at the same time as corn and didn’t get enough fertilizer during the dry spell, Terra Futuros added.