Storm potential across the Heartland later this week

Across the Corn Belt, mild, dry weather prevails, except for a few areas of snow west of the Mississippi River and some lingering rain in the lower Great Lakes region. The upper Midwest still has some snow on the ground; current depths include 2 inches in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and an inch in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

On the Plains, mild, dry weather prevails, except for patches of snow in the Dakotas. Across the central and southern Plains, drought-stressed winter wheat is benefiting from recent topsoil moisture improvements.

In the South, dry weather prevails in the wake of a departing cold front. Southeastern pastures and winter grains are benefiting from recent soil moisture improvements. In Florida, topsoil moisture was rated 50% very short to short on December 16, an improvement from 61% the previous week.

In the West, showery, unsettled weather prevails in western sections of Washington and Oregon. In addition, some light precipitation is breaking out in southern California and the Great Basin. Meanwhile, cooler air continues to overspread the entire region. In Arizona, 85% of the cotton had been harvested by December 16.

Colder air will gradually overspread the western and central U.S., with most areas west of the Mississippi River experiencing below-normal temperatures by Thursday. By week’s end, temperatures will quickly rebound across the nation’s mid-section. Early next week, sharply colder air will once again settle across the western and central U.S.

The series of storms responsible for the rapid temperature swings will maintain unsettled conditions across much of the nation. Five-day precipitation totals will reach 1 to 2 inches in parts of the Midwest and 2 to 4 inches in the Northeast. Portions of the Pacific Northwest could receive 4 to 8 inches. In addition, significant high-elevation snow can be expected in parts of the Southwest later Tuesday and in the Northwest during the next several days. On December 19-20, snow will spread from the central Plains into the western Corn Belt and portions of the Great Lakes region.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for near- to below-normal temperatures and near- to above-normal precipitation across the majority of the U.S. Warmer-than-normal weather will be mostly confined to southern portions of New Mexico and Texas, as well as the nation’s northern tier from the upper Great Lakes region to northern Maine. Meanwhile, drier-than-normal conditions will be limited to southern portions of the Rockies and High Plains.

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