In the West, significant precipitation is falling from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Rockies. In contrast, extremely dry weather continues to adversely affect rangeland and pastures in much of California. In addition, the current water content of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snow pack averages just 2 inches, less than 25 percent of the late-December normal.

On the Plains, temperatures remain near record-high levels, especially across the northern half of the region. On Dec. 29, daily-record highs reached 68° F at Goodland, Kansas, and Imperial, Nebraska.

In the Corn Belt, warmer-than-normal weather continues. Rain is falling across much of the central Corn Belt, while some light snow is falling in the upper Mississippi Valley. Precipitation is especially beneficial in the upper Midwest, where drought has gradually developed in recent months.

In the South, temperatures are rebounding to above-normal levels. In recent weeks, a drying trend has developed in the southern Atlantic region, where pastures and winter grains would benefit from a soaking rain.

Outlook: During the next few days, a pair of storms will traverse the northern U.S. The second system will intensify over the Great Lakes region, unleashing a blast of cold air early next week across the Midwest and East, and introducing an extended period of lake-effect snow squalls. Mostly dry weather will prevail across the remainder of the nation into the New Year, with temperatures remaining above normal in much of the western and central U.S. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for Jan. 4-8, 2012, calls for above-normal temperatures across the western two-thirds of the U.S., while colder-than-normal weather will prevail in the East. Meanwhile, drier-than-normal conditions across the southern two-thirds of the nation will contrast with near- to above-normal precipitation across the nation’s northern tier. Wetter-than-normal weather will be limited to the Northwest.