In the West, freeze warnings are in effect this morning for much of California’s Central Valley (and neighboring valleys), where some producers are employing protective measures to guard against injury to citrus and other temperature-sensitive crops. Elsewhere, snow continues to fall in the southern Rockies, while very cold air covers the Southwest.

On the Plains, dry weather prevails. Mild air is overspreading the northern Plains, but chilly conditions linger across the southern Plains. Wheat continues to overwinter with few major concerns, although emerging dryness could become a problem on the northern Plains, while lingering drought is an issue on the southern Plains.

In the Corn Belt, slightly cooler air is overspreading eastern portions of the region, where final corn harvest efforts remain largely on hold. In contrast, mild, dry conditions persist in the upper Midwest, where many communities are experiencing a rare holiday season without any snow on the ground.

In the South, a weakening band of showers is crossing the southern Atlantic region. Southeastern row crop harvest activities are largely complete, but some pastures and winter grains are in need of additional rain.

Outlook: Generally dry, increasingly mild conditions will prevail across the central and northern Plains and Corn Belt. Meanwhile, a slow-moving storm system will generate periods of rain and snow from New Mexico into Texas, with rain gradually spreading into the Delta and Southeast during the latter half of the weekend. Farther north, a pair of upper-air disturbances will trigger snow showers in the Great Lakes and Northeast, while rain and high-elevation snow linger in the Pacific Northwest. Dry, warmer weather will return to California and the Southwest. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for December 28, 2011 – January 1, 2012, calls for warmer- and drier-than-normal weather across much of the nation, with cooler-than-normal conditions confined to portions of the Southeast. Likewise, only locales in the Pacific Northwest and along the southern Atlantic Coast can expect above-normal precipitation.