In the West, rain and snow showers are confined to the Intermountain region. Meanwhile in California and the Northwest, warm, dry weather is promoting spri ng fieldwork and winter wheat growth.

On the Plains, drought-easing rain is falling across parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, and eastern Texas. Some frozen precipitation, including sleet, is occurring along the northern and western edge of the developing storm. However, significant precipitation has already bypassed the central and southern High Plains. Farther north, very cold weather persists in the eastern Dakotas, but mild air is overspreading the northern High Plains.

In the Corn Belt, unusually cold conditions persist. This morning’s low temperatures generally ranged from around 10°F in the far upper Midwest to near the freezing mark (32°F) in the lower Ohio Valley. A year ago, on March 31, 2012, corn planting was 6% complete in Missouri, where negligible corn was planted in March 2013.

In the South, rain is gradually overspreading areas west of the Mississippi River. By the end of March, corn planting was 95% complete in Louisiana and 22% complete in Arkansas, while emergence in those two states was 49 and 3%, respectively. Meanwhile, cool, dry weather prevails in the Southeast.

Outlook: A storm system currently affecting the south-central U.S. will drift eastward, reaching the southern Atlantic Coast by Friday. Storm-total rainfall could reach 1 to 3 inches from the southeastern Plains to the southern Atlantic States, with locally higher amounts possible along the Gulf Coast. A warming trend will follow the storm, with near- to above-normal temperatures expect ed nearly nationwide by week’s end. Cold weather will linger, however, across the nation’s northern tier from the Dakotas eastward, accompanied by late-week rain and snow showers. Elsewhere, showery weather will overspread the Northwest on April 4 and persist for several days. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for April 7-11 calls for near- to above-normal temperatures nationwide, except for cool-than-normal conditions in the Southwest. Meanwhile, above-normal precipitation across the nation’s mid-section, including much of the Plains and Midwest, will contrast with drier-than-normal weather in California and the middle and southern Atlantic States.