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July tops average rainfall

Precip deficit remains concern

It wasn’t much, mere 0.12 inches, but that amount of precipitation received overnight Tuesday and measured at 8 a.m. Wednesday, was enough to push Minot’s monthly rainfall total to 2.50 inches. Long-term average precipitation for July in Minot is 2.43 inches.

It was the first time since February, historically the state’s driest month, that Minot’s precipitation has been above-average for a month this year. In February it didn’t amount to much over though, just 0.48 inches compared to an average of 0.40.

“This is not a drought ender,” cautioned Allen Schlag, National Weather Service hydrologist in Bismarck. “Obviously it’s a good thing. We’ll call it that but, at this point, it may be fall or winter before we see significant optimism on the drought.”

The Minot region has been mired in drought conditions for many months despite a few occasional thunderstorms that have provided some relief. However, rainfall has been spotty with rainfall often covering only a few square miles. Additionally, higher than normal temperatures have been a game changer.

“We get moisture but not as much out of it as we normally would if daytime highs were in the 70’s,” said Schlag. “If the next day after rain it is 97 or 101 the moisture goes right back into the atmosphere in a day or two and you are right back where you were.”

Schlag says he doesn’t see any significant change in the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor which is scheduled to be released today. While rainfall has been encouraging in many areas, it is not yet enough to change overall drought conditions.

“For an end to the drought, first and foremost, you have to do something with the precipitation deficit,” said Schlag. “The big reset button for us is often winter, snow cover that brings spring runoff. That’s a huge reset button for us. If not, we’ll really be behind the curve next year.”

Minot’s precipitation deficit this year, as measured at the North Central Research and Extension Center south of Minot, is more than four inches with total precipitation recorded at 7.36 inches. Average precipitation through July is 11.40 inches.

The Climate Prediction Center forecast for Minot, and North Dakota, favors above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation through Aug. 3.

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