Drought conditions did not change significantly over the last week in the High Plains region, consisting of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming and Colorado or in the Midwest region which includes Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
WDAY Meteorologist John Wheeler said the U.S. Drought Monitor released May 6 indicated a "very modest increase" in drought conditions.
"So not much has changed in the past week," he said.
However, there are "vulnerable areas" throughout the region that could see drought creep in without precipitation systems, Wheeler said.
While the southwestern states and southern Rockies face the most drought concerns, the conditions have not improved in the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains. And neither major forecasting model shows much chance for improvement in the regions that need it most, Wheeler said.
North Dakota continues to be in the worst shape in the region with nearly 85% of the state categorized in a severe drought. Those conditions cover the entire western side of the state and stretch to Pembina County in the northeast corner to Dickey County in southeastern North Dakota.
In northwestern South Dakota, the town of Lemmon saw its driest January through April period on record with only 0.71 inches of precipitation observed, according to the Drought Monitor.
The South Dakota State Extension and the North Dakota State Climate Office are both reporting drought-related impacts in their respective states, including poor water quality for livestock and dry stock ponds. In western North Dakota, dry conditions and strong winds have been exacerbating fire-related conditions as firefighters are battling two wildfires in the Dakota Prairie Grasslands.
And Wheeler said the coming heat of summer could make things worse.
"If we don't add some moisture to the soils in these areas that are having drought conditions right now, it is likely the drought conditions will become much worse when we get into the heat and the evaporation of summer temperatures," Wheeler said.
Here is a state-by-state look at this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor:
Iowa: After a big jump in acres going from no drought to abnormally dry conditions last week, things are relatively unchanged for the state of Iowa. Severe drought conditions are seen in 7.62%, unchanged from last week. Moderate drought conditions jumped from 11.95% last week to 29.23% this week, leaving 41.58% in abnormally dry conditions.
Minnesota: Unlike it’s neighbors to the west, Minnesota is fairing pretty well. Minnesota’s drought conditions are relatively unchanged from last week. Just 0.78% is in severe drought, unchanged from last week. Moderate drought increased nearly four points to 15.44%, while abnormally dry conditions decreased slightly to 20.79%. Sixty-three percent of the state is not experiencing drought conditions, which is down 4% from last week.
Montana: Other than another small increase in extreme drought, Montana’s drought conditions were relatively unchanged from last week as well. 15.71% of the state is in extreme drought, which is up from 14.25% last week. Severe drought consists of 18.26%, while 30.39% is under a moderate drought; 23.27% is abnormally dry with just 12.37% of the state not experiencing any drought conditions. Overall, Montana is among the top three driest states in the Agweek coverage area.
Nebraska: Nebraska’s drought conditions improved slightly from last week, with no land considered in severe drought compared to 7% last week. Moderate drought conditions increased nearly five percent to 21.26%. Abnormally dry conditions also increased to 39.10%. Nearly 40% of the state is not experiencing drought conditions.
North Dakota: Total were relatively unchanged in North Dakota from last week. Extreme drought increase from 82.65% to 84.98%. Severe drought decrease from 10.34% to 8.01%. Moderate drought conditions were unchanged at 4.85%, as were abnormally dry conditions at 2.16%. The entire state is currently experiencing drought conditions.
South Dakota: South Dakota is still experiencing intense drought conditions. Severe drought conditions increased slightly from 19.42% to 20.73%. Severe drought came in at 14.30%, with moderate drought at 30.32% and abnormally dry conditions at 27.84%
Wisconsin: Drought conditions subsided slightly in Wisconsin. Acres experiencing no drought jumped from 48.51% last week to 57.9% this week. Abnormally dry conditions decreased from 28.81% last week to 15.91% this week. Moderate drought conditions did increase, going from 22.67% to 26.19%.