In the West, a stormy weather pattern continues from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Rockies, while warm, dry conditions prevail farther south. In Arizona, where fieldwork is advancing, the cotton harvest was 68% complete by December 5.

On the Plains, very cold air lingers across eastern areas. In contrast, mild weather is returning to the High Plains. On the central and southern Plains, a portion of the hard red winter wheat crop is poorly established and susceptible to winter weather extremes.

In the Corn Belt, travel remains extremely difficult in the wake of heavy snow across the upper Midwest, where depths of 1 to 2 feet are common. Today’s low temperatures plunged below -20 degrees F in parts of Minnesota. Meanwhile, much of the eastern Corn Belt’s soft red winter wheat areas are also covered by snow, with depths generally ranging from 2 to 4 inches.

In the South, very cold air is arriving. Light snow accompanies the cold blast across the interior Southeast, where this morning’s low temperatures fell below 20 degrees F. Deep South Texas and Florida’s peninsula escaped without a freeze, although cold air continues to pour across Florida.

Outlook: The NWS has issued a hard freeze warning for Tuesday morning in Florida as far south as Lake Okeechobee. Gusty northerly winds are expected to make freeze-protection measures difficult. Additional freezes can be expected across parts of Florida’s peninsula on Wednesday morning, when winds will diminish. Elsewhere, a cold weather pattern will remain locked into place across the East, while the Plains and the Northwest will experience a return to cold weather by week’s end. Meanwhile, stormy weather will gradually expand across the West, while generally light precipitation will spread from the northern Plains and Midwest into the Southeast. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for December 18-22 calls for below-normal temperatures across the northern Plains and much of the eastern one-third of the U.S., while warmer-than-normal weather will prevail in most areas west of the Rockies. Meanwhile, below-normal precipitation across the majority of the nation will contrast with wetter-than-normal conditions in northern New England, California, the Great Basin, and the Northwest.