In the West, a few rain and snow showers are returning to northern California and the Northwest. Meanwhile, dry conditions persist in the Southwest. In Arizona, 59% of the rangeland and pastures were rated in very poor to poor condition on December 9.

On the Plains, cold air is confined to areas along the Canadian border. Elsewhere, the gradual return of mild weather is eroding the northern Plains’ snow cover and maintaining significant stress on pastures, rangeland, and winter wheat across the central and southern Plains.

In the Corn Belt, mild, dry weather favors off-season activities. Snow remains on the ground across the northern tier of the region, particularly across the upper Midwest. Early today, the snow depth in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, was 8 inches.

In the South, beneficial rain is falling in the southern Atlantic States. On December 9, topsoil moisture was rated more than half very short to short in several Southeastern States, including Florida (61% very short to short) and North Carolina (54%).

Outlook: Rain will end by early Thursday across the lower Southeast, where totals may locally exceed an inch. Meanwhile, increasingly stormy weather will arrive in the West. Some of the most significant precipitation (rain and snow) will fall in the Southwest, where some locations could receive 1 to 2 inches. During the weekend, a significant surge of moisture will reach northern California and the Pacific Northwest, boosting 5-day precipitation totals as high as 2 to 4 inches. Elsewhere, the Southwestern storminess will quickly spread eastward late in the week, resulting in widespread but generally light precipitation across the central and eastern U.S. However, little or no precipitation will fall on the High Plains. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for December 17-21 calls for near- to above-normal temperatures nationwide, except for cooler-than-normal conditions along and near the Pacific Coast. Meanwhile, near- to below-normal precipitation across the central one-third of the U.S. will contrast with wetterthan- normal weather in the West, as well as the Great Lakes and Eastern States.