Today marks the lowest the sun will ascend into the sky in the northern hemisphere and the highest will will climb in the Southern Hemisphere. From this point on, days will begin to lengthen as the sun appears longer in the daytime sky in the U.S. Expansive drought remains the key weather feature in the western U.S., but accounting for weather conditions nationwide, wetter conditions in the southeast put the country about on average for aggregate moisture. The recent storm system in the northeast that delivered up to 40 inches contributes to that equation too. Moving forward, the Southern Oscillation Index indicates the La Niña system in place in the Pacific Ocean may begin weakening early in the new year. Chances for badly needed precipitation will be on the rise for the southwestern U.S. and southern Plains between now and New Year’s Day. See more from the latest outlook.