Wednesday's Weather Map
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Across the Corn Belt, mild, breezy conditions are developing across areas west of the Mississippi River. Meanwhile, cool, cloudy weather lingers across portions of the eastern Corn Belt. Midwestern producers, especially those in the western Corn Belt, continue to take advantage of “open” weather to perform farm maintenance activities.

On the Plains, record-setting warmth is returning in advance of an approaching cold front. Tuesday’s high temperatures will exceed 60° as far north as central South Dakota. However, windy weather accompanies the warmth, especially across the northern Plains. Due to lack of snow cover, winter wheat is exposed to potential weather extremes. In addition, 39% of the U.S. winter wheat production area is currently experiencing drought.

In the South, dry weather prevails, although some fog has developed in the central Gulf Coast region. In wetter areas of the Southeast, producers are still trying to complete harvest activities. In Florida, for example, 92% of the cotton had been harvested by December 20, compared to the 5-year average of 99%.

In the West, a low-pressure system traversing the northern Rockies is producing windy weather, accompanied by rain and snow showers. Cooler air is arriving in the Pacific Northwest, but mild, dry weather covers the Southwest.

A storm system currently crossing the northern Rockies will reach the upper Mississippi Valley on Wednesday morning before turning northeastward. Starting late Tuesday and continuing through Wednesday, wind-driven snow may result in blizzard conditions in parts of the north-central U.S., particularly in the Red River Valley and environs. High winds will also rake the northern and central High Plains. On Christmas Eve, a secondary low-pressure system forming along the storm system’s trailing cold front will enhance rainfall in the astern U.S. In parts of the Northeast, heavy rain may combine with melting snow to induce local flooding. Storm-total rainfall could reach 1 to 2 inches or more from the Appalachians into the Northeast. Sharply colder air will trail the precipitation, with rain changing to snow squalls on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the Appalachians and downwind of the Great Lakes. High temperatures on December 25 will not reach 20° in portions of the Great Lakes region—but could exceed 60° on the central and southern High Plains. Elsewhere, a storm system will arrive along the northern Pacific Coast on Friday, with precipitation later spreading inland across the Northwest. However, dry weather will prevail during the next 5 days from southern California to the southern Plains.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10- day outlook calls for the likelihood of near- or above-normal temperatures and precipitation across large sections of the country. Colder-than-normal conditions will be confined to the southern Atlantic States and parts of the West, while drier-than-normal weather should be limited to southern Florida, northern Minnesota, and the northernmost Rockies.

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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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