In the West, widespread precipitation (rain and snow) is falling in the Four Corners States in conjunction with a developing storm. Significant precipitation in Arizona and New Mexico is boosting high-elevation snow packs and providing beneficial moisture for drought-stressed rangeland and pastures. Elsewhere, precipitation is mostly confined to the Pacific Northwest, while cooler air is overspreading the entire region.

On the Plains, mild, dry weather prevails, despite an increase in cloudiness. Rain showers are breaking out across southern Texas, well south of the primary hard red winter wheat belt.

In the Corn Belt, dry weather accompanies a warming trend. Today’s high temperatures will approach 60°F in the southern Corn Belt. Some snow remains on the ground, however, in the upper Midwest; current snow depths include 6 inches in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, and an inch in Madison, Wisconsin.

In the South, mild, dry weather favors late-season fieldwork, including soybean harvesting in the southern Atlantic States. Despite recent precipitation, more rain is needed to reverse the recent trend of drought expansion in the Southeast. On December 9, at least one-fifth of the pastures were rated in very poor to poor condition in several Southeastern States, including North Carolina (27%) and Florida (20%).

Outlook: A developing storm over the Southwest will cross the central Plains and the western Corn Belt on Saturday before reaching the upper Great Lakes region on Sunday. Additional precipitation could exceed an inch in parts of the Southwest, but most of the central and southern Plains will receive only light rain. Precipitation should total a half-inch or more in parts of the Midwest, from eastern Nebraska to Michigan. Heavier rain, locally 1 to 2 inches, will fall across the South and East. Aside from the Southwest, significant snowfall associated with the storm will be confined to areas from the upper Great Lakes region to northern New England. Elsewhere, storminess will increase during the weekend and early next week across northern California and the Northwest, where some locations could receive 5-day precipitation totals of at least 2 to 4 inches. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for December 19-23 calls for near- to above-normal temperatures nationwide, except for cooler-than-normal conditions in the Pacific Coast States 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.