In the West, freeze warnings are in effect this morning in parts of California’s San Joaquin Valley, although temperatures are not low enough to significantly threaten citrus. Elsewhere in the West, dry weather accompanies below-normal temperatures.

On the Plains, a shallow to moderately deep snow cover is helping to insulate winter wheat across northern and central portions of the region. Nevertheless, pastures, rangeland, and winter grains continue to struggle due to drought. On December 30, for example, the portion of rangeland and pastures rated very poor to poor included 84% in Kansas, 82% in Oklahoma, and 70% in Montana.

In the Corn Belt, a variable snow cover exists. Snow depths are generally greater across the Ohio Valley, where both Columbus, Ohio, and Indianapolis, Indiana, have 6 inches on the ground, and in the upper Midwest, where Huron, South Dakota, and Des Moines, Iowa, are reporting 5-inch depths.

In the South, a band of rain stretches from the central Gulf Coast into the eastern Carolinas. Florida’s peninsula, however, remains unfavorably dry. For example, Florida’s topsoil moisture was rated 40% very short to short on December 30, while 27% of the state’s pastures were rated very poor to poor.

Outlook: During the next several days, most of the nation will experience tranquil weather and a gradual warming trend. Little or no precipitation can be expected during the next 5 days from the Intermountain West into the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys. Meanwhile, precipitation totals may approach an inch across the lower Southeast, while 1- to 2-inch totals may occur in western Washington. Southern Texas will receive some light precipitation, while snow showers will be widespread downwind of the Great Lakes. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for January 8-12 calls for above-normal temperatures from the Plains to the East Coast, while colder-than-normal conditions will prevail in the West. Meanwhile, near- to above-normal precipitation across the majority of the U.S. will contrast with drier-than-normal weather in California and much of Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.