An early-season snow cover dominates much of the northern U.S.
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Across the Corn Belt, dry weather prevails, aside from snow flurries in the Great Lakes region. However, late-season fieldwork remains largely at a standstill due to soggy or snow-covered fields. The U.S. corn harvest was 89% complete by December 1—the slowest harvest to this point since 2009, when the crop was 82% harvested. However, more than one-third of the corn remained in the field on December 1, 2019, in North Dakota (36% harvested), Michigan (66%), and Wisconsin (66%).

On the Plains, mild weather has begun to erode an expansive snow cover across the northern half of the region. Still, current snow depths include 8 inches in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and 4 inches in Billings, Montana. Across the Dakotas, many crops remain in the field, with little immediate hope for reaching harvest completion. On December 1, for example, the sunflower harvest was just 51% complete in North Dakota, compared to the 5-year average of 94%.

In the South, mild weather is returning across the western Gulf Coast region. Meanwhile, chilly conditions linger in the Southeast. Dry weather throughout the South favors late-autumn fieldwork, including cotton harvesting. Nationally, the cotton harvest was 83% complete by December 1, compared to the 5-year average of 81%.

In the West, precipitation associated with a slow-moving storm system has largely drifted offshore, although a few showers linger across California. Dense fog has developed in some areas, including California’s San Joaquin Valley. Despite recent rainfall, the cotton harvest was ahead of schedule on December 1 in California (93% complete) and Arizona (86%).

Much of the country will experience a return or continuation of near- or above-normal temperatures during the next several days, although a late-week surge of cold air will briefly affect the Midwest and Northeast. Meanwhile, a slow-moving storm system lurking near the California coast will move inland by mid-week and subsequently cross the Southwest. Late in the week, rain associated with that storm will spread across the Southeast. Farther north, a late-week cold front will cross the Great Lakes and Northeastern States, sparking snow showers. Toward week’s end, a new Pacific storm system will approach the West Coast, bearing rain, snow, and gusty winds.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of near- or above-normal temperatures and precipitation across most of the country. Colder-than-normal conditions will be limited to the upper Great Lakes region, while drier-than-normal weather should be confined to portions of the central and southern Plains.

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