In the West, warm weather is returning to the Intermountain region. Meanwhile, cool conditions accompany rain and snow showers in the Northwest.

On the Plains, record-setting warmth is returning to northern areas, including Montana and the Dakotas. Meanwhile, cool weather accompanies beneficial showers on the central and southern High Plains, where rangeland, pastures, and winter grains continue to struggle in the wake of the historic 2011 drought.

In the Corn Belt, record-shattering warmth persists across the eastern half of the region, pushing winter grains far ahead of their normal pace of spring development. Today’s high temperatures could exceed 85°F in parts of the Ohio Valley. Unusually warm weather also prevails elsewhere in the Midwest, although scattered showers are affecting the northern and western Corn Belt.

In the South, warm, dry weather continues to promote fieldwork and rapid crop development in the southern Atlantic States, where drought remains a significant concern. Of the acreage intended for corn, 19% had been planted by March 18 in Georgia, along with 12% in South Carolina. Farther west, local flooding and heavy showers are affecting parts of Mississippi and western sections of Tennessee and Alabama. Although rain has largely ended west of the Mississippi River, lowland flooding continues in some river basins.

Outlook: A slow-moving storm currently centered over the southern Plains will drift eastward, reaching the Mid- Atlantic States during the weekend. Additional rainfall associated with the storm could reach 1 to 2 inches from the Southeast (excluding Florida’s peninsula) into the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic States. Meanwhile, storminess will gradually subside in the Northwest. During the weekend, precipitation will overspread much of California. Much of the U.S., excluding areas near the Pacific Coast, will continue to experience unusual March warmth. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for March 27-31 calls for a continuation of warmer-than-normal weather nearly nationwide. Near- to below-normal temperatures will be confined to the Pacific Coast States, New England, and southern Florida. Meanwhile, near- to above-normal temperatures across the majority of the U.S. will contrast with drier-than-normal conditions in the central and southern Rockies and the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic States.