Late June 2012 Drought Update

Recent rainfall, where it has occurred, has been very beneficial to the agricultural community. Through most of June temperatures have generally been a little warmer than normal, and certainly warmer than recent early growing seasons. Despite the rainfall, many areas are perilously close to experiencing severe drought conditions. Based on reports from those within the agricultural community, most crops are currently in very good to excellent condition. That is good news. However, those same reports warn that sub-soil moisture is relatively short, especially when compared to recent years. While most crops look very good, an increasing number of reports suggest the topsoil moisture, while currently adequate in some areas, is less than sufficient in others. Crop stress is being reported in portions of the central and northern Red River Valley, even in the heavier clay soil areas where moisture is typically higher, making crops less susceptible to stress or drought.

During the fall of 2011 through the late winter 2012 the driest parts of our region were across the southern Red River Valley and adjacent portions of Minnesota Lakes Country. Through the 2012 spring, sufficient rain has fallen in the driest areas, significantly reducing the areal coverage of significant drought conditions. However, the areas that had previously been wettest - generally along and north of the U.S. Highway 200 corridor - now have some the drier soils. The exception is the upper Devils Lake Basin where pockets of above normal precipitation have fallen. Where the rainfall has been less than median, moderate drought conditions continue from the lower Devils Lake Basin, east along the International Border and on into the Lake of the Woods region. The Minnesota DNR State Climatologist has an excellent web article here which describes this in more detail.

Despite recent rainfalls, stream-flows generally remain below the long-term mean in portions of the Red River Valley This is particularly true across northwestern Minnesota and along the International Border. Very low flows have been observed on the Minnesota Wild Rice River, Marsh, Sandhill and Roseau Rivers as well as the Pembina River in North Dakota. These sub-normal flows support the idea that the recent rainfalls, while beneficial to agriculture, have not been enough to replenish the deeper soil moisture. Generally speaking, it is estimated that 4 to 7 - or more - inches of precipitation are needed over northwestern Minnesota to totally replenish soil moisture to long-term normals.

Below are some images that depict the developing dry conditions and the recent areas of precipitation. All this information was gathered by various agencies including the National Weather Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, North Dakota State Water Commission and respective State Climatologist offices in Minnesota and North Dakota. The information was compiled by the Regional Climate Center in Lincoln Nebraska.

Updates will be issued as conditions change. For additional information, visit the NWS Grand Forks Local Drought Page or contact the NWS in Grand Forks at 701.795.5198

Precipitation Deficit based on RADAR and Observations. Click for larger image

 60 day RADAR and observation based precipitation departure from normal.  Date range April 28th through June 27th 2012. Courtesy NWS / AHPS. Click on image for larger version.

 30 day precipitation departure from normal May 29 - June 27 2012. Courtesy High Plains Regional Climate Center.

North Dakota and Minnesota Drought Monitor as of June 29th 2012. Courtesy USDM.

Below are precipitation summaries for select stations across eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.

Precipitation summary from January 1 through June 27 2012 (blue line) for Fargo ND. Comparison with the normal (red line) during the same period, as well as the wettest (green line) and driest (tan line) on record. Courtesy of the Acis Program, HPCC Lincoln Nebraska

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Precipitation summary from January 1 through June 27 2012 (blue line) for the University of North Dakota / NWS Climate Station. Comparison with the normal (red line) during the same period, as well as the wettest (green line) and driest (tan line) on record. Courtesy of the Acis Program, HPCC Lincoln Nebraska

 

Precipitation summary from January 1 through June 27 2012 (blue line) for the NWS Cooperative Observation Weather Station. Comparison with the normal (red line) during the same period, as well as the wettest (green line) and driest (tan line) on record. Courtesy of the Acis Program, HPCC Lincoln Nebraska.

Precipitation summary from January 1 through June 27 2012 (blue line) for NDSU Experimental Station / NWS Cooperative Weather Station. Similar to Devils Lake, see the prolonged period of sub-median precipitation so far this year. It has been consistently dry in northeast North Dakota. Comparison with the normal (red line) during the same period, as well as the wettest (green line) and driest (tan line) on record. Courtesy of the Acis Program, HPCC Lincoln Nebraska.

Precipitation summary from January 1 through June 27 2012 (blue line) for the Wadena 3 south NWS Cooperative Observation Weather Station. Comparison with the normal (red line) during the same period, as well as the wettest (green line) and driest (tan line) on record. Courtesy of the Acis Program, HPCC Lincoln Nebraska.

 

Precipitation summary from January 1 through June 27 2012 (blue line) for the University of Minnesota/Itasca NWS Cooperative Observation Weather Station. Comparison with the normal (red line) during the same period, as well as the wettest (green line) and driest (tan line) on record. Courtesy of the Acis Program, HPCC Lincoln Nebraska.

Precipitation summary from January 1 through June 27 2012 (blue line) for the Warroad Minnesota NWS Cooperative Observation Weather Station. Comparison with the normal (red line) during the same period, as well as the wettest (green line) and driest (tan line) on record. Courtesy of the Acis Program, HPCC Lincoln Nebraska.

Mark Ewens, Data Acquisition Program Manager / Climate Services and Drought Focal Point, NWS Eastern North Dakota Grand Forks



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