GRAND FORKS — September in Grand Forks was the wettest in at least 126 years.
Slightly more than 9 inches of rain — 9.06 to be exact — fell during the month, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Forks. The last time September was close to being this wet was in 1957, when 7.54 inches fell during the month.
September 2019 also ranked as the fourth wettest of any single month in Grand Forks, the weather service reported. Only June 1964, June 1925 and August 1944 were wetter. The top three wettest months were during the summer, when heavy rainfalls are typical, said Carl Jones, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Grand Forks. The fifth wettest single month in Grand Forks also was in June.
“It’s pretty unusual you would be this wet in September,” Jones said.
The wet weather is the result of a persistent upper atmosphere weather pattern that is pulling up moisture from the south and west, he said.
“We’ve just really been stuck in this type of pattern for at least the latter half of September,” Jones said.
Most damage from the heavy rains the weekend of Sept. 20-23 appears to have been cleaned up in Grand Forks. Grand Forks Emergency Management reported that it had completed its volunteer work the evening of Saturday, Sept 28.
The office had volunteer help for several days from the East Grand Forks and Thompson, N.D., football teams, UND, the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Grand Forks Air Force Base and the Community Emergency Response team, said Donna Anderson, a spokeswoman for Grand Forks Emergency Management. Target, meanwhile, donated $300 worth of cleaning supplies, including mops and buckets, Anderson said.
“We finished all of the homes by 6 o’clock Saturday evening,” she said.
The excessive rains during the past months aren’t confined to Grand Forks. Fields across northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota are saturated, and homeowners’ sump pumps are running steady.
Outside of the city, farmers are far from finished with their harvest and thousands of acres of soybeans, edible beans, potatoes and sugar beets still are in the field.
The sugar beet harvest of American Crystal Sugar Beet shareholders begins Tuesday, Oct. 1. Though harvest officially will begin that day, it may be the end of the week before farmers start digging their crops, said Dan Gowan, American Crystal Sugar Co.'s director of agriculture.
“The east side of the Hillsboro and Moorhead districts received the least amount of rain so they’ll probably be the first to start,” Gowan said.
A tour of sugar beet fields on Monday, Sept. 30, that took him from Moorhead to East Grand Forks revealed field conditions that were far from optimal.
“There’s water standing everywhere. I’m sitting right now with my windshield wipers going,” Gowan said during a stop at the East Grand Forks factory district.
If there is no more rain and some sun and wind to dry out fields, there’s a chance some farmers could be digging sugar beets by Friday, Oct. 4, Gowan said.
But the forecast for the next few days is for varying chances of rain: from as little as 30% on Tuesday, Oct. 1, to as much as 60% during the night of Wednesday, Oct. 2.
Long range, the Climate Prediction Center predicts above normal precipitation in North Dakota and Minnesota for the next 10 days.
However, though above normal, the amount of October precipitation is unlikely to be as excessive as the rains that fell the past two weeks of September, Jones said.
“We start to lose the warmth and the ability to get a lot of rainfall,” he said.