The 6-10 day precipitation outlook
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Across the Corn Belt, wind-blown snow and sharply colder conditions across the upper Midwest are creating difficult conditions for livestock and hampering holiday travel. Early Wednesday, some of the most dangerous weather conditions are occurring across the eastern Dakotas, northern Nebraska, and northern and western Minnesota. Meanwhile, mild, windy weather prevails across the central and eastern Corn Belt, in advance of a strong cold front.

On the Plains, blizzard conditions have engulfed the Red River Valley of the North and neighboring areas in the eastern Dakotas, stressing livestock and disrupting holiday travel. Dangerous conditions due to falling temperatures and wind-driven snow extend as far west as the Black Hills and southward into parts of Nebraska. High winds are raking the northern and central High Plains. Colder air is overspreading the southern Plains, accompanied by gusty winds.

In the South, chilly conditions linger in the southern Atlantic States, but warm, breezy weather covers areas from the Mississippi Delta westward. However, a strong cold front is quickly approaching from the Plains.

In the West, a high-pressure system settling across the Intermountain region is producing offshore winds in southern California. As a result, a critical wildfire threat has returned to southern California’s coastal mountains due to dry conditions, cured fuels, low humidity levels, and wind gusts locally reaching 50 to 60 mph or higher. The remainder of the West is also experiencing dry weather, aside from lingering snow showers in the central Rockies.

For the remainder of Wednesday, wind-driven snow associated with an intensifying storm system crossing the upper Mississippi Valley will stress livestock and result in difficult conditions for holiday travel. By Christmas Eve, the storm’s trailing cold front will arrive in the East, triggering heavy rain, locally severe thunderstorms, and possible flash flooding. The greatest flood threat will occur in the Northeast, where runoff may be enhanced by rapidly melting snow. In the storm’s wake, sharply colder air will cover the Midwest and East for Christmas Day, while snow showers and squalls will linger across the Appalachians and downwind of the Great Lakes. By the morning of December 26, freezes will reach northern Florida and could extend as far south as the northern part of Florida’s citrus belt. In contrast, mild weather will quickly return across the High Plains, where Christmas Day high temperatures could reach or exceed 60° from western Kansas southward. Elsewhere, a storm system should arrive along the northern Pacific Coast on Friday, with precipitation extending inland to the northern Rockies and southward into parts of California.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for near- or below-normal temperatures and near- or above-normal precipitation across most of the country. Warmer-than-normal weather will be limited to southern Texas and the Northeast, while drier-than-normal conditions should be confined to the southern tip of Florida and the nation’s northern tier from the northern Rockies into the upper Great Lakes region.

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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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