The latest U.S. drought monitor shows that mostly dry weather with much-above normal temperatures persisted through the central and southern Great Plains recently. As of December 28, month-to-date temperatures in the southcentral U.S. were more than seven degrees above normal. Widespread precipitation in the Midwest supported a slight decrease in dry soils across parts of Minnesota. However, long-term deficits continue in other parts of the Upper Mississippi River Valley. Western Wisconsin also saw small improvements, while moderate to severe drought expanded slightly in southern Wisconsin. A small area of severe drought showed up west of St. Louis, while parts of Missouri saw an increase in abnormal dryness. Another expansion of drought classification took place in Kansas due to worsening soil-moisture conditions. The Drought Monitor says increasing snowpack led to improving drought conditions in the Central Rockies. The Monitor also showed a slight decrease in abnormal dryness and moderate drought across central and eastern North Dakota.