While many areas in the eastern half of the nation are getting relief from heat, the landscape around the Midwest is behaving like a desert.
Spotty thunderstorms will make their way into part of the Midwest into the weekend and beyond. However, in areas where the rain does not fall, more extreme temperatures are in store.
Areas from Arkansas to part of the Ohio Valley, as well as portions of the northern Plains are likely to be on the receiving end of localized downpours moving forward.
Unfortunately, many places within this zone will be missed by nature's rainfall selections. A large swath from Kansas to Iowa, Nebraska and parts of Illinois and Missouri could go through next week with nary a drop of rain.
According to Agricultural Meteorologist Dale Mohler, "The dry ground is allowing the sun to squeeze every degree out of the air mass in the Midwest."
A similar weather pattern with moist ground may yield highs in only the low to mid-80s. However, since the ground is very dry, essentially behaving like sand in the desert, high temperatures are reaching well into the 90s in many areas, despite air originating from Canada.
Spells of heat and a couple of weeks of little or no rain are not unusual during the summer. However, the severity of both this year in a large part of the Midwest are stressing crops to the point where they may no longer produce fruit.
To make matters worse, the high pressure system that shifted to the west this week is showing signs of redeveloping over the Plains next week. As a result, 90-degree temperatures will again be replaced by reading of 100 degrees or more in areas that miss out on rain into the weekend.
The pattern is more bad news for area agriculture, and if it continues through the summer, there could be serious problems with water supplies as well.
This map shows the hydrological conditions across the United States as of June 2012. Since the end of June, hydrological conditions as well as soil moisture have deteriorated considerably over much of the Midwest due to a number of 100-degree days and a lack of rain.
Central areas of the corn belt, like the southern areas in recent weeks, are now being subject to the same harsh conditions.
Problems could expand into northern areas of the corn belt as well, if the drought and heat continued to build in the region.
"If sufficient rains do not come soon, there may be serious problems for the other cash crop grown in the Midwest: soybeans," Mohler said.
The wet weather pattern will continue across the Seattle area through the first part of the weekend before drier weather moves in for the new week.
Clouds and a gusty southerly breeze will be the rule across the Dallas-Fort Worth area to wrap up Christmas week as spotty showers move in for the weekend.
Following wet weather earlier this week, drier weather will return for the first part of the weekend before storms late in the weekend.
Mild weather will continue in Harrisburg this weekend but will be followed by seasonably cold air during the final days of 2014.
While temperatures will be well above average in Pittsburgh this weekend, colder air will arrive next week for the final days of 2014.
After a blustery and cold weather pattern earlier in the week, temperatures will rebound across the Detroit area and winds will die down for the weekend.
Amarillo, TX (2000)
20.2" of snow - the all time 24 hour December record.
Tennessee's heaviest snow since 1843: McMinnville 14"; Memphis 8.5".
Long Branch, NJ (1913)
70 mph winds during a huge coastal storm.