In the West, cool conditions linger across the southern Rockies. Elsewhere, late-season warmth and dry conditions favor fieldwork, including Northwestern winter wheat planting. However, several wildfires remain active in the northern Rockies. On the strength of late-summer wildfire activity in the Northwest, the nation’s year-to-date total is approaching 8.4 million acres—within reach of the 2006 record of 9.9 million acres.

On the Plains, warm weather has returned to northern areas, where today’s high temperatures will approach 90°F as far north as Montana. Farther south, cool, showery weather continues to boost soil moisture in preparation for winter wheat planting, especially across the southeastern Plains.

In the Corn Belt, a band of widespread showers stretches from southeastern Michigan into the middle Mississippi Valley. Farther north, frost advisories are in effect early today in parts of North Dakota and northern Minnesota, where low temperatures generally ranged from 30 to 40°F.

In the South, isolated showers are confined to the western Gulf Coast region and Florida’s peninsula. Elsewhere, warm, dry weather continues to promote summer crop maturation and harvesting.

Outlook: During the weekend and early next week, a cold front crossing the Plains and the Midwest will interact with a pool of atmospheric moisture across the South. As a result, showers and thunderstorms will develop in the vicinity of the front, while showers will be drawn northward in advance of the front across the eastern U.S. Fiveday rainfall totals should reach 1 to 3 inches in a broad area across the South and East. In contrast, little or no rain can be expected into the middle of next week across the western half of the U.S. In the front’s wake, another surge of cool air will arrive during the first half of next week across the Plains and Midwest. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for September 19-23 calls for below-normal temperatures from the Plains to the Appalachians, while warmer-than-normal weather will be confined to southern Florida, New England, and the West. Meanwhile, below-normal precipitation from the Pacific Coast to the Plains will contrast with wetter-than-normal conditions east of the Mississippi River.