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Published July 25, 2012, 09:18 AM

Grand Forks, Devils Lake, Fargo sees record rain

Tuesday’s record rainfall in Grand Forks and other parts of the Red River Valley should help some area crops, but it is too early to tell whether the moisture signals an end to the region’s nearly year-old drought.

By: Kevin Bonham, Grand Forks Herald

Tuesday’s record rainfall in Grand Forks and other parts of the Red River Valley should help some area crops, but it is too early to tell whether the moisture signals an end to the region’s nearly year-old drought.

“One rain does not a drought break,” said Mark Ewens, climate forecaster with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.

The agency reported that 1.96 inches of rain fell at Grand Forks International Airport. That breaks the record of 1.30 inches, set in 1993.

Rainfall totaled 2.06 inches at the Weather Service office in Grand Forks, surpassing the mark of 1.22 inches in 1902.

Another band, along and south of Interstate 94, produced rainfall totals of as much as 3 to 5 inches in some points between Valley City, N.D., and Wadena, Minn.

Fargo also set a record, with 2.35 inches, breaking the mark of 1.05 inches in 1993.

Limited spread

While heavy rain fell in the Grand Forks area, others points to the north and between the U.S. 2 and I-94 swaths received little moisture.

“It was really spotty. In Grand Forks, for example, the area was pretty small,” Ewens said. “You don’t have to go very far south of the city to see that the rain diminished very dramatically.”

Thompson, N.D., for example, received about one inch, while Reynolds, N.D. recorded about 0.70 inch. By contrast, rainfall totaled 0.04 inch in Mayville, N.D., and 0.07 inch in Hatton, N.D.

To the north, Pembina, N.D., reported 0.01 inch.

While rainfall officially measured 2.7 inches in the Devils Lake Basin, totals ranged from 0.21 inch in Starkweather, N.D., to 4.59 inches at Woodland Resort.

Looking ahead

Even factoring this week’s rain, much of North Dakota and northwest Minnesota remain dry, as total precipitation over the past two weeks lags 50 percent or more below normal.

“While it is good news for those that received it, there are several things to consider,” the Weather Service said in a rain analysis released Wednesday afternoon.

Heavy rains, such as those late Tuesday, can result in as much runoff as absorption into the soils, especially in the heavy clay-based Red River Valley, the report said. That runoff already was seen Wednesday in some rivers.

In addition, Tuesday’s rain covered just narrow strips of the drought-stricken valley.

“Stressed or weakened crops can be damaged by excessive rain rates, hail, high winds or a combination of the three,” the report said. “Stunted crops can be drowned in lower-lying areas, and mud splattering of leaves can stress certain crops.”

“Droughts such as we’re seeing in the Red River Valley developed over the past 10 or 11 months,” the report said, “and will be slow to be mitigated completely.”

The Weather Service forecasts potential showers and thunderstorms tonight and Thursday, mainly across northwest Minnesota.

High temperatures are expected to be in the 80s today, then cooling to the 70s on Thursday, before rising back into the 80s for the weekend, according to the short-term forecast.


Call Bonham at (701) 780-1110; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1110; or send email to kbonham@gfherald.com.

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