Across the Corn Belt, widespread snow showers are occurring downwind of the Great Lakes. Cold, dry weather covers the remainder of the Midwest, which retains an extensive but variable snow cover in the wake of recent storms. Harvest activities remain impractical or impossible in most areas, especially across the deeply snow-covered far upper Midwest.
On the Plains, breezy conditions accompany a marked warming trend. Across the northern and central High Plains, winter wheat’s protective snow cover is starting to erode. A deep snow cover persists, however, in parts of the Dakotas, where a substantial acreage of crops, including corn and sunflowers, remains in the field.
In the South, cool, dry weather prevails, except for lingering showers across southern Florida. Recent rainfall in Florida has generally eased short-term dryness; on December 15, prior to the most recent rainfall, Florida’s topsoil moisture was rated 24% very short to short, down from 37% the previous week. Elsewhere, a Freeze Warning was in effect early Wednesday in parts of southern Texas, mainly north of key winter agricultural production areas near the lower Rio Grande.
In the West, showers are arriving along portions of the Pacific Coast, especially in northern California. Dry weather covers the remainder of the region, although chilly conditions in the Southwest contrast with mild weather farther north. The Southwestern cotton harvest is nearing completion, but breezy weather lingers in portions of southern California.
A warming trend that has already commenced across the High Plains and the Northwest will soon spread to other regions. In fact, above-normal temperatures will cover most of the country by week’s end, with lingering cool conditions limited to the Atlantic Seaboard. Late-week temperatures will average more than 20° above normal across portions of the Plains. Meanwhile, late-week storminess will result in rain, snow, and wind from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Rockies. Five-day precipitation totals could top 10 inches west of the Cascades, leading to local flooding. However, the Northwestern precipitation will also boost high-elevation snowpack and should ease or eliminate short-term dryness. During the weekend, precipitation will begin to shift southward, overspreading California and parts of the Southwest. Elsewhere, a late-week storm system could deliver heavy rain and high winds to the lower Southeast, especially across Florida.
Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of warmer-than-normal weather nearly nationwide. Cooler-than-normal conditions should be limited to areas along and near the Pacific Coast. Meanwhile, below-normal precipitation in the Pacific Northwest and from the western and central Gulf Coast regions into the Northeast should contrast with wetter-than-normal weather in other areas, including California, the Plains, Southwest, upper Midwest, and southern Atlantic region.