Drought Information Statement
Issued by NWS Bismarck, ND

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AXUS73 KBIS 202008

Drought Information Statement
National Weather Service Bismarck ND
308 PM CDT Thu Jul 20 2017 /208 PM MDT Thu Jul 20 2017/


North Dakota generally had well above normal moisture in the early
half of the 2016-2017 winter. However, January and February were
relatively normal even though they are historically two of the
driest months of the year. As the spring snowmelt season hit full
swing in March, the lack of early spring rains and snow were
masked by a slow melt of an above normal snowpack that mostly
infiltrated into the soil.

April was again well below normal for moisture received, but this
allowed farmers to work nearly unimpeded by weather and begin an
early planting season. Similarly, May was well below normal with
places like Minot and Bismarck having their 10th and 4th driest
Mays on record, respectively.

Concerns about the lack of spring precipitation began to mount by
the end of May as active vegetation lowered what was above normal
soil moisture levels in April, to generally below normal. The
first designation of Moderate (D1) drought via the United States
Drought Monitor (USDM) occurred on 23 May. In June, the
continuation of well below normal precipitation when combined with
well above normal temperatures saw rapid depletion of soil
moisture across western and central North Dakota. Along with this
worsening of conditions, the USDM designations intensified to
include wide swaths of Severe (D2) and Extreme (D3). The D3
included an area extending from Logan and McIntosh counties of
south central ND, north and west to Billings, Mountrail, and Ward
counties by the end of June.

In July, widespread reports were received of significant crop
damages, well below normal hay and pasture conditions, and a
lowering of small streams and rivers to below seasonal norms. This
provided the impacts and conditions to further degrade drought
to the Exceptional category (D4) in portions of Divide, Slope,
Bowman, Adams, Hettinger, Stark, Dunn, Grant, Morton, Mountrail,
McKenzie, and Ward counties.

Below is a summary of precipitation from March 1 through July 20,

Location.....Precipitation Received.....How Far Below Normal

Hettinger.........4.26 inches.............-5.33 inches
Minot.............4.14 inches.............-5.87 inches
Dickinson.........4.68 inches.............-4.74 inches
Bismarck..........4.69 inches.............-4.95 inches
Jamestown.........5.09 inches.............-5.43 inches
Williston.........3.83 inches.............-4.31 inches

The Governor of North Dakota has declared a drought emergency for
26 counties across North Dakota in a coordinated drought response
with other state agencies including the State Water Commission,
Department of Emergency Services, Forest Service and Department of
Agriculture. This declaration activated state programs to assist
farmers and ranchers in affected counties impacted by the drought.
Coordination with county and city commissions, law enforcement,
and emergency management has also been extensive regarding
agriculture impacts and potential fire danger.

Very recent rainfall has only temporarily helped soil moisture
levels. Soil moisture in the root zone of most crops continues to
be well below normal across much of the area. Multiple soil
moisture models and data sources indicate that moisture has
fallen to the 5th-10th driest percentiles across much of western
into south central North Dakota.

Below normal streamflows are observed across most of the Missouri
River Basin tributaries. This is especially true of the Little
Missouri River where flows are below the 10th percentile for July.
Low flows of only 5-10 cubic feet per second (CFS) are being
observed in the Marmarth and Medora areas, and around 40-50 CFS in
the Watford City area. This is compared to a median flow of 122
CFS near Medora, and 184 CFS near Watford City for this time of
the year.

The greatest impacts have been to the agricultural sector of
western and central North Dakota. This is especially true to the
livestock industry. Hay shortages, stressed pasture land and
increased sulfates in watering holes have greatly challenged
ranchers across western and central North Dakota. Historically
normal crops of small grains are often being cut for hay because
of a lack of native grasses and expectations for very poor yields.
Similarly, non-irrigated row crop farming is also challenged by
very stunted crop formation and expectations for greatly reduced

Fire restrictions and bans are in place across much of western
and central North Dakota. Cool season native vegetation is
generally mature and continuing to cure from the spring, and warm
season grasses are stressed from a lack of soil moisture. This has
exacerbated an earlier than normal increase in fire danger. For
example, fire danger in July has been more similar to what the
region generally expects in August.

Above normal temperatures are favored in the short-term 6-10 and
8-14 day outlooks as well as the one-month and three-month
outlooks. When it comes to precipitation, the lack of a major
climate driver has put much of the U.S., including North Dakota,
into the Equal Chance category.

With the lack of a strong precipitation signal suggesting a a
return to normal, or above normal precipitation, already stressed
hydrologic conditions are likely to worsen through the end of

NEXT ISSUANCE DATE... This product will be updated in August, or
sooner if necessary in response to significant changes in


Related web sites...
Additional information on current drought conditions may be found
at the following web addresses /use lower case letters/...

U.S. Drought Monitor...http://www.droughtmonitor.unl.edu
National Integrated Drought Information System...
CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER...http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov
Midwestern Regional Climate Center...
High Plains Regional Climate Center...http://hprcc.unl.edu
NWS River Information...http://www.weather.gov/ahps
USGS River Information...http://water.usgs.gov
US Army Corps of Engineer...http://www.mvr.usace.army.mil

The Drought Monitor is a multi-agency effort involving NOAA`s
National Weather Service and National Climatic Data Center...the
USDA...state and regional center climatologists and the National
Drought Mitigation Center. Information for this statement has
been gathered from NWS and FAA observation sites...State
Cooperative Extension Services...the USDA...USACE and USGS.

If you have any questions or comments about this Drought
Information Statement...please contact...

National Weather Service
2301 University Drive Bldg 27
Bismarck, ND 58504


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