The 6-10 day temperature outlook
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Across the Corn Belt, mostly cloudy but mild weather prevails. Dense fog developed overnight in parts of the upper Midwest, where snow remains on the ground in the wake of late-December storminess. Soil moisture shortages persist in parts of the western Corn Belt; at the end of December, USDA/NASS rated topsoil moisture at least one-half very short to short in North Dakota (71%), South Dakota (59%), and Nebraska (56%).

On the Plains, mild weather continues to benefit overwintering wheat, despite the lack of a protective snow cover. Early Friday, dry weather covers much of the region, although a few snow showers are occurring on the northern High Plains.

In the South, snow is blanketing the southern Appalachians, while rain is falling along and near the mid-Atlantic Coast. From the western Gulf Coast region to the Mississippi Delta, cool, dry, breezy conditions trail the Southeastern storm.

In the West, the latest in a parade of Pacific storms is moving ashore in the Northwest. Rain and snow showers are occurring as far south as northern California, but the bulk of the precipitation is falling in the Pacific Northwest. Water supply concerns are mounting in California and Southwest, where reservoir storage is mostly below average and prospects for spring and summer runoff are becoming less favorable as the drier-than-normal winter nears its half-way mark.

In addition to the cold front currently crossing the Northwest, three disturbances will reach the northern Pacific Coast during the next 5 days. The barrage of storm systems will maintain unsettled, showery weather in the Northwest, especially from the Cascades westward. In contrast, dry weather will prevail during the next 5 days in southern California and the Desert Southwest, as well as large sections of the northern and central Plains and the Midwest. Meanwhile, the storm currently affecting the Southeast will depart by Friday night, followed by a similar weather system during the weekend and early next week. The upcoming storm has the potential to produce snow in several areas, starting with southern sections of the Rockies and Plains during the weekend. By early next week, rain will overspread the Southeast, while snow may fall in the central and southern Appalachians and adjacent foothills.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of near- or above-normal temperatures nationwide, except for cooler-than-normal conditions in the Southeast. Meanwhile, near- or below-normal precipitation across most of the country should contrast with wetter-than-normal weather on the northern Plains.

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

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