Weather report: Strong cold front approaches the Corn Belt

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In the West, warm, dry weather continues to favor late-season fieldwork in the Desert Southwest. Farther north, however, a few showers are developing as far south as central California. High-elevation snow stretches from the Sierra Nevada to the central Rockies.

On the Plains, a tremendous temperature contrast exists. This morning’s temperatures fell below 10°F on Montana’s High Plains, and should exceed 80°F later today across the southern half of Texas. Snow is helping to insulate winter wheat on the northern High Plains, while unfavorable dryness persists on the southern High Plains. In Montana, current snow depths include 7 inches in Billings and 4 inches in Great Falls.

In the Corn Belt, mild weather prevails in advance of a strong cold front. Some light precipitation (snow, freezing rain, and rain) is affecting the Great Lakes region, where corn harvest activities are nearly complete.

In the South, late-season warmth prevails, although scattered showers from southern Louisiana to South Carolina are limiting fieldwork. By December 1, North Carolina’s winter wheat was 92% planted. On the same date, North Carolina’s cotton harvest was 88% complete, while the soybean harvest was 80% complete.

Outlook: For the remainder of today, cold air will continue to engulf the Plains and West. Freeze warnings have already been issued for Wednesday morning in parts of California’s San Joaquin Valley. From December 5-7, readings near -30°F can be expected on the northern High Plains, while sub-zero temperatures will occur as far south as the central High Plains. Additional freezes should also be expected in some of the winter agricultural regions of the West, including the San Joaquin Valley. Meanwhile, mid-week snow will spread as far east as the Great Lakes region and as far south as the mountains of the Four Corners States. During the second half of the week, heavy rain will erupt across the Mid-South and spread into the northern Mid-Atlantic States, with 2- to 4-inch totals possible. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for December 8-12 calls for below-normal temperatures nationwide, except for warmer-than-normal weather in the southern Atlantic region. Meanwhile, near- to above-normal precipitation across the majority of the U.S. will contrast with drier-than-normal conditions from the northern Plains to northern New England, including much of the Midwest.

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