USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility says on the Plains, cool weather prevails, but bitterly cold conditions are limited to portions of the Dakotas. Mild air is starting to overspread Montana’s high plains, courtesy of westerly, downslope winds, according to USDA.
In the West, USDA explains mostly dry weather accompanies near- to above-nor mal temperatures. "Some light precipitation is occurring, however, from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Intermountain West," USDA reports. California, just months away from the completion of a third year of drought, is starting to brace for potential water shortages, according to USDA.
In the Corn Belt, USDA says a final surge of bitterly cold air is settling across the far upper Midwest, where this morning’s temperatures generally ranged from -10 to -30°F. "Chilly weather lingers across the remainder of the Midwest, with rural travel still difficult due to deep, drifted snow in parts of the central and eastern Corn Belt," USDA reports.
In the South, Florida’s peninsula again mostly escaped a freeze, as cloudiness and on-shore winds prevented temperatures from falling sharply, USDA explains. "Meanwhile, temperatures have begun to rebound across Deep South Texas, which also avoided a freeze," USDA adds. Hard freezes—temperatures of 28°F or lower—were noted, however, as far south as northern Florida and the central Gulf Coast, according to USDA.
In its outlook, USDA says a rapid warming trend across the central and eastern U.S. will lead to a return to above-normal temperatures nearly nationwide by Jan. 10. The general warmth will continue into next week, USDA adds. An increase in precipitation will accompany the sudden warmth, with five-day precipitation totals expect to exceed one-half inch along and east of a line from central Texas to Upper Michigan, USDA details. "Totals could reach 2 to 4 inches in some locations from the southeastern Plains to the southern Appalachians," USDA elaborates. Some of the mid- to late-week precipitation across the eastern half of the U.S. may occur in the form of sleet and freezing rain, as cold air will initially be slow to dislodge near the earth’s surface, USDA explains. "Elsewhere, dry weather will persist into next week across the northern Plains and from southern California into the Desert Southwest," USDA reports.