U.S. Drought Monitor chart
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In the Corn Belt, a weak cold front is crossing Nebraska and the Dakota, resulting in negligible precipitation but an increase in cloud cover. Through the 17th, December temperatures are averaging more than 10° above normal in parts of the upper Midwest, including Fargo and Grand Forks, North Dakota. In addition, Fargo has not reported a snow depth of an inch or greater since the morning of October 28.

On the Plains, mild, mostly dry weather prevails, despite widespread cloudiness. Patchy snow cover across the central and southern Plains continues to benefit winter wheat, while the northern Plains remain largely devoid of snow.

In the South, freezes occurred early Friday as far south as northern Florida. However, sub-freezing temperatures did not reach Florida’s citrus belt. Cool, mostly dry weather covers the remainder of the South, although fog was reported this morning in parts of the Tennessee Valley and environs.

In the West, most areas are experiencing dry weather between two storm systems. However, snow showers associated with the initial storm linger across the central Rockies, while a new round of precipitation is overspreading the Pacific Northwest. An elevated wildfire threat persists in portions of coastal southern California, although no large fires are currently active.

Winter storm recovery will continue in parts of the Northeast, where December 16-17 snowfall totaled 1 to 3 feet or more in many locations. (Officially, storm-total snowfall in Binghamton, New York, reached 40 inches.) Meanwhile, the focus for heavy precipitation will shift to the Northwest, where three Pacific storm systems—each a bit stronger than the previous one—will push ashore during the next 4 days. Northwestern precipitation, which could locally total 5 to 10 inches or more from the Cascades westward, may result in flooding across western Washington. In contrast, little or no precipitation will fall during the next 5 days from California to the central and southern Plains. During the weekend and early next week, generally light precipitation may affect the South and East, while periods of snow may blanket the nation’s northern tier.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation across much of the western and central U.S., while cooler- and wetter-than-normal weather will cover much of the East. Exceptions should include the Pacific Northwest (wetter than normal) and northern New England (warmer than normal).

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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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