Severe drought designation holds in North Dakota despite recent precipitation

Moisture needed across state

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“The bottom line is that we still have a deficit in soil moisture. A holding pattern is a good way to put it,” said Allen Schlag, National Weather Service hydrologist in response to that latest issuance of the Drought Monitor, released Thursday.

Despite recent precipitation, rain and snow, across the state, there was no change to the amount of North Dakota considered to be in “extreme” drought – 75.85%. The designation includes all of Ward County where 0.93 inches of precipitation has been recorded this month at the North Central Research and Extension Center south of Minot. Elsewhere in the state precipitation totals over the same period have been much less, as little as a few hundredths in Dickinson and Jamestown.

“You guys in the Minot area were the big winner, even northeast of Minot a bit,” said Schlag. “Overall though, for the entire state, the Drought Monitor held status quo.”

Schlag is one of several contributors to the compilation of the weekly Drought Monitor which, he said, had some leaning toward worsening or expanding the extreme designation. However, noted Schlag, some of the impact factors of extreme drought includes impacts such as crop and pasture loss without regard to the fact that the planting and growing season in North Dakota is generally considered to be several weeks away.

“We just entered the growing season. It’s going to take a little bit to materialize. The reality is, we can’t claim that as an impact yet,” explained Schlag. “A Drought Monitor is a depiction of impacts.”

North Dakota is not alone in experiencing dry conditions. Nationally, nearly the entire western half of the U.S. is considered to be in the advance stages of drought with the warm weather months looming ahead. The Drought Monitor added that, “Streamflow was well below normal all along the West Coast and in the interior West, in North Dakota and northwest South Dakota, parts of southern Texas, the southern and eastern Great Lakes, and parts of the Northeast.”

North Dakota’s recent precipitation events were also noted in the Drought Monitor.

“In North Dakota, the snow was enough to prevent further deterioration but not enough to reduce deficits. U.S. Department of Agriculture reports show 78% of North Dakota, 61% of Montana, 58% of South Dakota, 56% of Wyoming, and 49% of Colorado with topsoil moisture short or very short.”

While long-range forecasts through August favor below-normal precipitation and above-normal temperatures for North Dakota, probabilities for both precipitation and temperatures are expected to fall with the normal seasonal range for the next two weeks.


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