Dry Conditions Developing Across the James River Valley

After a spring of flooding, dry conditions are developing across the James River Valley as a result of below average precipitation from April through August of 2009.  Shown below are the monthly precipitation totals at Jamestown and their departure from normal.

Month Total Precpitation (inches) Departure from Normal (inches)
April 1.17 -0.19
May 0.85 -1.36
June 1.42 -1.63
July 1.11 -2.11
August 1.29 -1.04

The National Drought Mitigation Center has placed portions of the James River Valley in a Argicultural D1 Drought, (a moderate drought affecting mostly agricultural resources, not hydrologic resources such as water systems or reservoirs). This area is depicted by the Tan colors and the letter "A" across North Dakota in the US Drought Monitor produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Zooming in on North Dakota, the D1 Agricultural drought conditions (Tan) can be seen across the upper James River Valley, with abnormally dry conditions (yellow) across the remainder of the James River Valley and across much of the Souris River basin.  As is shown in the table to the left of the map, three months ago no portions of the state were experiences D1 drought conditions or higher. However, the current Drought Monitor now shows 12% of the state is experiencing D1 Agricultural drought conditions.

The National Drought Mitigation Center also produces a product called VegDri or Vegetation Drought Response Index. The VegDRI calculations integrate satellite-based observations of vegetation conditions, climate data, and other biophysical information such as land cover/land use type, soil characteristics, and ecological setting. The automatically generated VegDri calculations do not necessarily match those of the manually produced Drought Monitor Index, rather, VegDri is a tool to determine vegetation response to drought or excess water conditions.  As is shown below in the brown colors across the James River Valley, much of the vegetation is very dry, with additional dry areas across Billings and Stark counties. Much of the slightly dry conditions across the remainder of the state are due in large part to seasonal vegetation curing.

Thanks to the National Drought Mitigation Center for the above images and explanation of VegDri. The Seasonal Drought Outlook through November 2009 calls for a small area of improvement across the eastern third of North Dakota, with most locations remaining the same.

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