USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility says on the Plains, bitterly cold conditions and some light snow are limited to the Dakotas. Farther south, light rain has developed across the southeastern Plains. However, drought continues to adversely affect rangeland, pastures, and winter wheat on the southern High Plains, particularly in western Texas, USDA states.
In the West, for the first time in more than a week, freeze warnings are not in effect in California's San Joaquin Valley as the cold wave has begun to ease, USDA reports. As a result, producers have been able to begin relaxing citrus freeze-protection efforts. Citrus damage assessments are underway, although a complete picture of damage will not emerge for weeks or months. Elsewhere in the West, mostly dry weather accompanies a gradual warming trend, USDA says.
In the Corn Belt, USDA says cold weather persists. Snow blankets most of the Midwest, although coverage is patchy from the middle Mississippi Valley into the lower Great Lakes region. Current snow depths stand at four inches in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Rockford, Illinois; and Dayton, Ohio.
In the South, light precipitation in the form of rain and freezing rain is developing across the northwestern fringe of the region, including the Ozark Plateau. Elsewhere, cool, dry weather is promoting late-season fieldwork, including cotton and soybean harvesting, USDA states.
In its outlook, USDA says the weekend will be dominated by a fast-moving storm system across the eastern U.S. Storm-total rainfall could reach one to three inches across the lower Southeast, while heavy snow can be expected from the middle Mississippi Valley into the Northeast. There is the potential for some ice accumulations in the Piedmont region of the Mid-Atlantic States on Saturday, USDA says. In the storm's wake, precipitation will be mostly confined to the Great Lakes region and the Pacific Northwest. By early next week, above-normal temperatures will cover the western and central U.S.-in stark contrast to the first half of December, USDA concludes.