In the West, cooler air is spreading into the Pacific Coast States. Meanwhile, rain is spreading across southern California, while snow showers dot the Intermountain West.

On the Plains, cold weather is generally confined to the Dakotas. Elsewhere, mild, dry weather is maintaining significant stress on pastures, rangeland, and winter wheat.

In the Corn Belt, mild, dry weather prevails, except for some lingering cold conditions across the snow-covered far upper Midwest. Current snow depths include 6 inches in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, and 2 inches in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

In the South, rain showers linger along the southern Atlantic coast, mainly in the Carolinas. Elsewhere, cool, dry weather favors late-season fieldwork.

Outlook: A developing storm over the Southwest will drift northeastward, reaching the western Corn Belt by Saturday and the Great Lakes region on Sunday. Storm-total precipitation could reach 1 to 2 inches in the mountains of the Southwest, but only light rain will fall on the central and southern Plains. Slightly heavier precipitation, locally in excess of a half-inch, will fall during the weekend across the upper Midwest. Early next week, more significant rain (generally 1 to 2 inches) can be expected across the South and East. During the weekend and early next week, stormy conditions will resume in northern California and the Pacific Northwest, where 5-day totals could reach 2 to 5 inches. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for December 18-22 calls for near- to above-normal temperatures across the majority of the nation, while cooler-than-normal conditions will be confined to the Far West and along the southern Atlantic coast. Meanwhile, below-normal precipitation from the Plains into the Southeast will contrast with wetter-than-normal weather in the Northeast and west of the Rockies.