Dryness in the northern Plains stretching west to the Pacific Northwest and down the California coast is the dominant ag weather story in the lower 48 states heading into the weekend, with North Dakota now experiencing the driest six-month time period leading up to February of this year in modern recorded history. Soil moisture levels reflect that dryness, as well as similar conditions building in the central and eastern Corn Belt. The U.S. Drought Monitor, which will be updated again Thursday, shows 60% of the nation is under drought conditions, with expected advancements in such conditions advancing from north to south in parts of the Corn Belt. Though temperatures in the southern Plains will be moderate and slightly cooler than normal through April, a gradual warming trend will kick temperatures higher than normal next month, according to the latest outlook. In the short term, conditions will be largely mild and windy in much of the nation’s center, with severe weather chances limited to the Gulf and Delta region, moving north through the eastern Corn Belt into the weekend. See more from the latest outlook.