In the West, wet weather continues in northern California and the Northwest, where mountain snow packs are established and many winter grains are insulated beneath a protective blanket of snow. Meanwhile in the Desert Southwest, cotton harvesting and other late-season fieldwork activities are advancing.

On the Plains, mild, dry weather prevails. Much of the northern Plains’ winter wheat crop is covered by snow, but poorly established wheat across parts of the central and southern Plains remains vulnerable to weather extremes such as high winds and rapid temperature fluctuations.

In the Corn Belt, mostly dry weather prevails, although some snow is developing across the upper Midwest.

In the South, Florida’s farmers are assessing the impact of the December 7-8 cold snap on nursery crops and vegetables such as beans and sweet corn. Cool air remains in place across the Southeast, although freezes did not occur this morning in Florida’s winter agricultural areas.

Outlook: A storm system approaching the Pacific Northwest will cross the Rockies before re-developing on Saturday over the south-central U.S. The storm will have a relatively benign effect before reaching the Mississippi Valley, with precipitation mostly confined to the nation’s northwestern quadrant. During the weekend, however, the intensifying storm will produce widespread, locally heavy precipitation across the eastern one-third of the U.S. Snow can be expected from the Mid-South to the interior Northeast, while rain will fall farther south and east. Very cold air will blast southeastward in the storm’s wake, reaching Florida early next week. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for December 14-18 calls for below-normal temperatures across the eastern one-third of the U.S., while warmer-than-normal weather will prevail from California eastward to the central and southern Plains. Meanwhile, above-normal precipitation across the nation’s northern tier will contrast with drier-than-normal conditions from southern California into the Southeast, including the southern half of the Plains.