Drought conditions improve after recent rains

Submitted Graphic The U.S. Drought Monitor report from April 23 showed abnormally dry conditions for the period.

April came and went, and delivered a series of rainy days which has resulted in a reduction in the region’s drought level, but has caused a slight delay in the planting of crops at the beginning of May.

The Drought Monitor report released on April 25 had indicated that a large portion of Ward County was designated as abnormally dry for the period. That said, NDSU Extension Agent Paige Brummund indicated that the report set to be released on May 2 was anticipated to show improved conditions due to the recent rain.

Brummund said crop planting in the Ward County area was commencing, but that a majority of planting will occur in May. Brummund noted that moisture across the county would cause a brief delay as farmers allow soil to dry before they resume field work. The delay in planting could be exacerbated by further rains forecasted for the first days of May.

Brummund encouraged the public and those out in their fields to directly report weather conditions in their area through the Drought Impacts portal on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln website. These reports are then compiled by the UN-L to boost the understanding of data from the Drought Monitor by identifying impacts that may not be apparent in the analysis of broader-scale climate data.

Those reporting their conditions can provide first-hand observations on decreased crop production and livestock weights; reductions in yields, pastures, and forage; and increased need for irrigation or hauled water. Information on the frequency of fires and poor air quality can also be provided in addition to increases in harmful algae blooms and decreased surface water quantity and quantity.

The precipitation has had a positive impact on North Dakota’s current Fire Danger Index, with the northern tier of counties in the state along with Adams County in the southwest corner are currently designated as moderate, and the rest of the state has been rated in the low category. North Dakota typically records about 1,800 fire incidents each year according to the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.

While there is a declaration for Ward County, there currently aren’t any restrictions in place due to the current Index rating. A fire on April 21 started by a burn barrel threatened a homestead north of Burlington, but was contained by firefighters after it consumed five structures and about a 100 vehicles on the property. Any restrictions on burning in Ward County only come into effect if the Fire Danger levels are high, very high, or extreme.

Several counties in the area have already declared burn restrictions, including Divide, Williams, McLean, Sheridan and Pierce Counties. Despite the moderate and low Index ratings in the counties, the declarations require all controlled burns to be called in beforehand.


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