Plan on high pressure to bring a week of mostly dry weather across the Columbia Basin. A weak disturbance moving through the ridge may bring a few light showers on Wednesday with a better chance late next Friday into next weekend. Temperatures will continue to gradually warm and should be near to slightly above normal for much of next week. Snow cover has slowed the warming so far, but as more ground starts to receive solar radiation the temperature rise will likely increase. On Monday, satellite images showed only about a half of 1 percent of the Columbia Basin with no snow, which increased to about 1.3 percent by Wednesday and to around 4 percent midday Thursday. It is likely that more than half of the Columbia Basin will be free of snow by Monday. Soils will still need several more days of drying though before field preparation and planting can begin. In the few areas where the snow has melted, soil temperatures have warmed into the upper 30s. Once the snow departs, pastures and winter wheat growth should respond quickly to the warm temperatures and sunshine, because so far in March, temperatures have averaged a whopping 15-20 degrees below normal. In the latest drought monitor released yesterday, only Grant, Douglas, and Chelan counties remain in the abnormally dry category. For the water year, which began October 1, Moses Lake, Ephrata, and Wenatchee have registered below normal precipitation. That's kind of hard to believe as we've been digging out of record snow these past 5 weeks.