Across the Corn Belt, mild, mostly dry weather has replaced previously chilly conditions. Snow cover in the eastern Corn Belt, primarily across Ohio, has begun to melt. Except where fields are wet or blanketed by snow, Midwestern conditions favor off-season fieldwork, including farm maintenance activities.
On the Plains, mild, dry weather prevails. Friday’s high temperatures should reach or exceed 60° as far north as western South Dakota. On December 1, drought was affecting 39% of the U.S. winter wheat production area, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, leaving nearly one-fifth (18%) of the crop rated in very poor to poor condition.
In the South, rain is falling in several areas east of the Mississippi River. Early Friday, some of the heaviest rain is spreading into the southern Appalachians. This Southeastern rain event is another setback for producers attempting to complete harvest activities for crops such as cotton and soybeans. In Virginia, 62% of the cotton and 85% of the soybeans had been harvested by November 29. On the same date, one-fifth to one-third of the soybeans remained in the field in North Carolina (77% harvested) and South Carolina (70% harvested).
In the West, critical fire weather conditions persist in coastal southern California. The Bond Fire, burning in Orange County’s Silverado Canyon east of Santa Ana, was ignited late December 2 and has consumed more than 7,000 acres of vegetation, with negligible containment. Dry weather also covers the remainder of the region, although air stagnation and foggy conditions are plaguing parts of the Northwest.
A storm system crossing the Southeast will intensify during the weekend along the middle and northern Atlantic Coast. Storm-total rainfall could reach 1 to 2 inches or more in the Atlantic Coast States from the Carolinas to Maine. Interior New England may receive significant weekend snow. By early next week, tranquil weather will return (or continue) across most of the country, although unusual warmth across the Plains will contrast with chilly conditions in the Midwest and East. Dry weather will prevail during the next 5 days across large sections of the Plains, Midwest, and West. Periods of light precipitation will occur, however, in the Pacific Northwest. In southern California, a prolonged “Santa Ana” wind event will maintain the threat of rapidly spreading and difficult-to-contain wildfires.
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 across Florida’s peninsula. Meanwhile, below-normal precipitation in the East and West should contrast with wetter-than-normal weather across the central one-third of the country, including the Plains, mid-South, and central and southern Rockies.