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Across the Corn Belt, mild air is pushing into the middle Mississippi Valley. In contrast, cold weather lingers across the northern and eastern Corn Belt. A few snow showers are occurring downwind of the Great Lakes.

On the Plains, drought conditions are further worsening across the southern half of the region due to extraordinarily dry weather, increasing winds, and low humidity levels. Afternoon temperatures should top 80° on the southern High Plains, where meaningful precipitation has not fallen in more than 5 months. In stark contrast, a spring storm is producing rain and snow across portions of the northern High Plains.

In the South, Freeze Warnings were in effect early Thursday as far south as northern Florida, while scattered frost was reported into the central portion of Florida’s peninsula, north and west of Lake Okeechobee. The cold spell continues to threaten a variety of ornamentals, blooming fruits, and recently emerged crops.

In the West, the first in a series of storms is crossing the Rockies, while the second system is approaching the Pacific Coast. Rain and snow showers are affecting many areas, but the southern Rockies and Desert Southwest remain dry. Despite cool, showery weather in recent weeks, the average water content of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snowpack is less than 40 percent of the mid-March normal.

During the next few days, a pair of Western storms will maintain unsettled conditions. Aside from the southern High Plains, southern Rockies, and Desert Southwest, nearly all areas in the western and central U.S. will receive some rain and/or snow. Five-day precipitation totals could reach 2 to 4 inches or more in the Sierra Nevada. Meanwhile, significant, late-season snow can be expected on the Plains as far south as Nebraska. In contrast, warm, dry, windy weather will lead to a substantial, multi-day wildfire threat on the southern High Plains. Elsewhere, periods of rain across the southern Corn Belt and the Southeast could result in 5-day rainfall totals of 1 to 2 inches.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation across most of the country. Warmer- and drier-than-normal weather will be confined to southern Florida and portions of the south-central U.S., including the southern High Plains.

Greg Soulje, a professional meteorologist since 1985, offers national agricultural weather forecasts via "This Week in Agribusiness."