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As dry conditions expand, Minot region receives welcome rain

Every drop helps

What a welcome happening!

Thunderstorms rolled through the Minot region late Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, dropping much needed rainfall to an area where dry conditions have been rapidly expanding and deteriorating.

The amount of rain was spotty, which is often the case in thunderstorm activity versus a general rainfall, but any moisture was welcome following a long stretch of very dry weather. While some areas south of Minot reported an inch or more or rain, the recorded amount from official reporting points proved to be much less.

Sixty-nine hundredths of an inch was the official measurement at 8 a.m. Thursday at the North Central Research and Extension Center south of the city. On the north side, at the Minot International Airport, the rain gauge read 0.42 at 7 a.m. with some rain still falling in the area. Measured rainfall from overnight storms at the Minot Air Force Base at the same hour was 0.14 inch.

The rain was much-needed, even if not widespread. There has been growing concerns about a lack of moisture across the region. The U.S. Drought Monitor released its latest weekly assessment Thursday morning, compiled before rain fell in the region. It showed a significant increase in the area considered to be in moderate drought throughout North Dakota, including virtually every county in the western half of the state and abnormally dry conditions creeping as far east as Devils Lake and Jamestown.

In a narrative released along with the Drought Monitor map, the claim was made that “soil moisture continues to suffer across western North Dakota, much of Wyoming, and all of Colorado.”

While the rain was a welcome sight, more is needed to help reverse drought conditions. According to the 6-10 day outlook issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, covering the period of June 30 through July 4, North Dakota has an elevated chance of greater than average precipitation. That outlook is backed up by rainfall projected in long-range forecasts for next week.

According to statistics released by the Drought Monitor Thursday, the amount of the state considered to be in moderate drought increased from 36% a week ago to nearly 69%. And, for the first time this season, an area of “severe” drought was indicated immediately north of Bismarck.

June is generally the wettest month of the year in North Dakota, averaging nearly four inches of rain, but not this year. Total rainfall for the month received through 8 a.m. Thursday was 1.46 inches, placing this month’s total rainfall just three hundredths of an inch more than what fell in the “Dirty 30’s” year of 1933.

In the past 116 years of rainfall data, this June currently ranks 102nd with the end of month only a few days away. Barring a major downpour, this June will become the sixth consecutive month in which the Minot area has recorded less than normal precipitation. Minot’s precipitation for the year is 4.91 inches, about half of normal.

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