On the Plains, a shallow to moderately deep snow cover is helping to insulate winter wheat across northern and central portions of the region.
Nevertheless, pastures, rangeland, and winter grains continue to struggle due to drought. On December 30, for example, the portion of rangeland and pastures rated very poor to poor included 84 percent in Kansas, 82 percent in Oklahoma, and 70 percent in Montana.
Across the Corn Belt, a variable snow cover exists. Snow depths are generally greater across the Ohio Valley, where both Columbus, Ohio, and Indianapolis, Indiana, have 6 inches on the ground, and in the upper Midwest, where Huron, South Dakota, and Des Moines, Iowa, are reporting 5-inch depths.
In the South, a band of rain stretches from the central Gulf Coast into the eastern Carolinas. Florida's peninsula, however, remains unfavorably dry. For example, Florida's topsoil moisture was rated 40 percent very short to short on December 30, while 27 percent of the state's pastures were rated very poor to poor.
In the West, Freeze Warnings are in effect Thursday morning in parts of California's San Joaquin Valley, although temperatures are not low enough to significantly threaten citrus. Elsewhere in the West, dry weather accompanies below-normal temperatures.