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Severe drought conditions continue in North Dakota

Conditions severe over much of state

Submitted Photo The dark orange portion on this map of North Dakota indicates “severe” drought conditions according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The remainder of the state is rated as being in “moderate” drought, light brown, or “abnormally dry”, yellow.

This week’s U.S. Drought Monitor shows dry conditions persist over much of North Dakota, even worsening slightly in the past week.

Dry conditions during the winter season are not particularly unusual for North Dakota, nor a cause for imminent concern, but every passing day brings the state closer to the planting season when soil moisture is paramount. Spring soil moisture is needed to germinate seeds and spur growth in haylands.

Soil moisture conditions can change quickly from melting snow or spring rain, but the drier the conditions the more critical those moisture sources become. Thursday’s release of the Drought Monitor showed a minimal increase in dry conditions across the state, indicative of the lack of snow cover throughout North Dakota.

Most of the state is rated to be in the D2 category on the drought conditions ratings. D2, or “severe” drought, in now present over 58.25% of North Dakota. That compares to 56.61% a week ago. Additionally, much of the remaining part of the state is considered in “moderate” drought, one level below severe.

The Drought Monitor concluded this week that the “driest areas – reporting little or no precipitation,” included the High Plains. High Plains states are North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas.

“Another dry week, resulting primarily in a fairly broad expansion of severe drought into northeastern Wyoming and the western Dakotas,” reads the Drought Monitor. Adding that the D2 designation of severe drought means “soil moisture is low; pasture and rangeland is dry, river flow is decreased and stock dams are low.”

While the three-month weather outlook issued by the Climate Prediction Center calls for an equal chance of above or below-normal precipitation through March, outlooks issued by the National Weather Service conclude there is an elevated chance of precipitation, likely in the form of snow, over most of North Dakota through Feb. 10.

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