A seasonally mild pattern for most; unsettled weather lingers across the Midwestern Corn Belt

Across the Corn Belt, rain and snow showers linger, mainly from the middle Mississippi Valley into the lower Great Lakes region.  In recent days, cooler Midwestern weather and scattered showers have curbed off-season agricultural activities, although temperatures are still at near- or above-normal levels for this time of year.  Friday’s Midwestern maximum temperatures should generally range from 35 to 40°F.   

On the Plains, a lack of sustained cold weather continues to benefit overwintering wheat.  In addition, many areas of the Plains have received beneficial precipitation in recent weeks, which reduced the portion of the U.S. winter wheat production area experiencing drought from 49 to 30%, based on the U.S. Drought Monitor depiction, between October 24 and December 26.  Currently, mild, dry weather covers the Plains, although snow remains on the ground in the wake of a recent storm in many areas from the Dakotas southward into northern Kansas and northeastern Colorado. 

In the South, cool, mostly dry weather prevails.  A Freeze Warning was in effect early Friday in parts of southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi.  Later Friday, high temperatures will peak only near 40°F in the Tennessee Valley and will remain below 70°F as far south as southern Texas and much of Florida.  In winter vegetable areas of Florida where soils are dry enough for fieldwork, crops being planted include green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, sweet corn, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. 

In the West, showers are occurring along and near the Pacific Coast, with heavy surf and large waves pounding some California coastal communities.  The remainder of the western U.S. is experiencing mild, dry weather, aside from chilly conditions in the central and southern Rockies.  According to the December 26 U.S. Drought Monitor, less than one-quarter (24%) of the 11-state Western region is experiencing drought, down from 64% at the same time a year ago.

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