Dry weather likely to continue as drought continues to spread, but cool May could help
Despite the minimal precipitation the region received over the last week, the drought and its conditions continue to spread across the country, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Drought conditions worsened slightly as minimal or negligible rainfall events occurred over the past week.
WDAY Meteorologist John Wheeler said the driest areas, especially in North Dakota, simply did not receive enough moisture in an April that followed a dry fall and winter. Soil moisture remains critically low in many parts of the region.
Last week, the Biden-Harris Administration launched a drought relief working group to address the urgency of the water crisis throughout the west. That was followed up this week by North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring reactivating the Drought Hotline and interactive hay map for his state.
First activated in 2017, the hotline and map are available for ranchers affected by the drought.
“Ranchers who need hay, or those with hay to sell or with pasture or hayland to rent should call us at 701-425-8454,” Goehring said in a statment. “We are also appealing to individuals who are available to move hay to contact the hotline.”
The interactive hay map is available at www.nd.gov/ndda . Users may click on the icons to retrieve information about available hay, pasture and hayland in their area.
While Wheeler says dry conditions are likely to continue, the temperatures also are supposed to be cool, which could help reduce evaporation. But time is of the essence when it comes to soil moisture.
"If we don't pick up some rain in May, the summer could be a pretty rough one in terms of drought over the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest," he said.
Extreme drought conditions now cover over 80% of North Dakota, extending from the western side of the state to central Pembina County in the northeast corner, down to central McIntosh county in south-central North Dakota.
Drought conditions did not change significantly in the High Plains regions which consist of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming and Colorado or in the Midwest region which includes Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.
Here is a state-by-state look at this week’s drought monitor :
Iowa: Over 25% of the area in central Iowa went from no drought to abnormally dry this week. In total, 54.92% of Iowa in categorized as abnormally dry, up from 28.13% last week. Nearly 60% of the state wasn’t in any drought category last week, but just 25.51% is this week. Severe drought conditions was unchanged from last week and still sits at 7.62%. Moderate drought conditions increased from 5.01% to 11.95%
Minnesota: 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 14.14%, while abnormally dry conditions decreased slightly to 22%. The state has 63.09% of land not experiencing drought conditions, which is down from 67.44% last week.
Montana: Other than a small increase in extreme drought, Montana’s drought conditions were relatively unchanged from last week as well. The state has 14.25% of land considered to be in extreme drought, which is up from 10.91% last week. Severe drought consists of 17.12%, while 32.08% is under a moderate drought; 25.61% is abnormally dry with just 10.94% of the state not experiencing any drought conditions.
Nebraska: Nebraska drought conditions did not any much change over the past week, with the severe drought percentage stayed at 7%, moderate drought at 16.41% and abnormally dry conditions at 38.62%.
North Dakota: More than three-quarters of the state of North Dakota is in the extreme drought category at 82.65%, up from 75.85% last week. Severe drought came in at 10.34%, which was a decrease from 17.14%. 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, but conditions improved slightly since last week. The state has 19.42% of land in extreme drought, the same as last week. But severe drought decreased from 16.54% to 15.62% and moderate drought decreased from 36.72% to 29.28%. The abnormally dry category increased slightly, from 22.3% to 28.83%, but the amount of the state not considered to be in any drought category increased from 5.02% to 6.85%.
Wisconsin: Wisconsin took a big jump in the moderate drought category this week, increasing from 0.74% last week to 22.67% this week. Abnormally dry conditions decreased, however, going from 36.01% last week to 28.81% this week. Currently, 48.51% of the state is not experiencing drought conditions in Wisconsin. Overall, drought conditions in the state are mild relative to neighboring states in the High Plains region.