25% of North Dakota in 'moderate drought'

Jun 2, 2017

The U.S. Drought Monitor is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL. Edit | Remove

The latest US Drought monitor now shows about a quarter of North Dakota is in a moderate drought.

State climatologist Adnan Akyuz said the state just went through a very wet six month period. That period ended in February.

"However, the rains turned off," Akyuz said. "And conditions are deteriorating."

Akyuz said plants were able to utilize the excess moisture of the fall and winter seasons. But he said that is changing.

"Especially with the warmer temperatures, the soil is losing the moister a lot faster than it did before," Akyuz said.

The fall and winter were about the 9th wettest in North Dakota history, Akyuz said.

"Now, all of a sudden, spring is in the drier side," Akyuz said. "The jet stream pattern changed. And that pattern will take its time to settle down. In the meantime, we are going to get lesser than normal precipitation."

Akyuz said other parts of North Dakota are showing early signs of drought as well.  He said he expects the area of drought to expand.

"When the rain stops and the soil gets dry, it lacks moisture that evaporates and is added into the atmosphere," Akyuz said. "if you don't have that, we have to rely on advection, or moisture coming from elsewhere. That may not happen."