In the West, California’s Central Valley continues to deal with low overnight temperatures, which — in tandem with dry conditions — have stunted pasture growth. A freeze warning is in effect this morning in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Mild, dry weather covers the remainder of the region, except for some rain and snow showers from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Rockies.

On the Plains, unusually mild weather and gusty winds are eroding any remaining snow cover across northern areas, including Montana. In contrast, a widespread snow cover continues to provide winter wheat with beneficial moisture and insulation on parts of the central and southern High Plains.

In the Corn Belt, mild, breezy weather prevails in the upper Midwest. In contrast, rain is changing to snow across the eastern Corn Belt, where final corn harvest efforts remain on indefinite hold.

In the South, dry weather has returned to the central and western Gulf Coast States, but showers and thunderstorms are sweeping across the southern Atlantic region. Southern rains are providing drought relief and benefiting winter grains and cool-season pastures.

Outlook: For today, snow will blanket the eastern Corn Belt and the lower Great Lakes region, while rain will soak the East. However, cool, mostly dry weather will return to the eastern one-third of the U.S. by midweek.

For the remainder of the week, significant precipitation will be confined to the Northwest. Five-day precipitation totals could reach 6 to 9 inches in parts of the Pacific Northwest. Late in the week, snow showers will develop in the vicinity of the Great Lakes. Elsewhere, mild, dry weather will prevail through week’s end.

The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for January 1-5, 2012, calls for warmer-than-normal weather nationwide, except for near- to below-normal temperatures in the Southeast. Meanwhile, drier-than-normal conditions across the southern two-thirds of the U.S. (excluding Florida) will contrast with near- to above-normal precipitation across the nation’s northern tier.