In the West, dry weather favors fieldwork, including the cotton harvest in Arizona and the rice harvest in California. Warm weather is returning to the Northwest, where recent showers provided much-needed moisture for rain-fed winter grains.

On the Plains, cooler weather prevails. Lingering showers are confined to the Dakotas, where a chilly rain is falling. Drought continues to hamper winter wheat germination and establishment across the northwestern Plains, but the hard red wheat growing season has gotten off to a mostly favorable start farther south.

In the Corn Belt, a storm system centered over the upper Great Lakes region is producing widespread showers. Precipitation is especially beneficial across the upper Midwest, where soil moisture recharge is needed to help alleviate drought concerns. Across the eastern Corn Belt, showers and thunderstorms are slowing fieldwork but easing or eradicating any lingering drought.

In the South, showers and locally severe thunderstorms are sweeping through — and east of — the lower Mississippi Valley. Meanwhile in the southern Atlantic States, warm, mostly dry weather favors summer crop harvesting and other fieldwork.

Outlook: A storm system over the Midwest will drift northeastward, reaching eastern Canada over the weekend. Additional rainfall could reach 1 to 2 inches, with locally higher amounts, from the Mississippi Valley into the Northeast. In contrast, mostly dry weather will prevail through week's end from California to the central and southern Plains. However, storminess will increase across the Northwest, eventually spreading as far south as central California by early next week. Markedly cooler weather will accompany the stormy conditions in the Pacific Coast States and the Northwest. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for October 23-27 calls for near- to abovenormal temperatures nationwide, except for cooler-than-normal conditions along and northwest of a line from California to Montana. Meanwhile, below-normal precipitation across most of the southern half of the U.S. will contrast with wetter-than-normal weather across the nation's northern tier from the Pacific Northwest to the Great Lakes region.