SUBSCRIBE NOW 3 months just 99¢/month

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Northern Plains are wet, but weather could make a 180 this summer

This summer, the southwest flow of air which has brought precipitation to the northern Plains during the past six weeks will return to the northwest flow that dominated during much of 2021 and early 2022, said Daryl Ritchison, meteorologist and North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network director.

A gravel road with water on both sides of it.
Fields too wet to plant, like these northeast of Northwood, North Dakota, are a common sight across eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.
Ann Bailey / Agweek
We are part of The Trust Project.

By mid-summer North Dakota, Minnesota and eastern South Dakota farmers may be hoping for rain for their thirsty crops, but right now they need dry weather to get them planted.

The weather during the three-month period from July through September is forecast to have above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation, the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center said in its April 21, 2022, long term outlook.

This summer, the southwest flow of air which has brought precipitation to the northern Plains during the past six weeks will return to the northwest flow that dominated during much of 2021 and early 2022, said Daryl Ritchison, meteorologist and North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network director.

The southwest flow, which pulls up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, results in wet weather in the northern Plains, Ritchison said. While he had forecast that the early spring in 2022 would be wetter than the previous few months, he didn’t expect there would be the record breaking amounts of precipitation seen in April.

A record 6.49 inches of precipitation fell in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in April, 1.21 inches more in April 1896 when the previous record was set, according to the National Weather Service. Farther south, Fargo, North Dakota had 5.45 in April, which was just .04 inches shy of the record set in 1886, the weather service said.

ADVERTISEMENT

The wet weather continued during the first 10 days in May, and 1.4 inches of rain had fallen in Grand Forks, and 2.36 inches in Fargo, NDAWN records said. Another storm with heavy rainfall was forecast for May 12 for eastern North Dakota.

The moisture that has fallen this month over the eastern part of the state is typical in May, Ritchison said.

“May is our second wettest month of the year so it’s going to rain,” he said.

Typically, even more rain falls in June.

“That, by far, is by far the wettest month of the year, “ Ritchison said. Parts of North Dakota even had heavy rains last year, when the state was in the early stages of drought, he noted.

However, Ritchison predicts the weather pattern will turn drier in mid-May, after another heavy rainstorm that was predicted for May 12. That will open a window for spring planting.

If soils dry in time for farmers to start planting soybeans and corn on May 25, based on a 115-day growing season, there’s still time for the crops to mature before the first freeze in September, Ritchison said.

The exceptions to that are flooded areas in northwest Minnesota and northeast North Dakota, where rivers have spilled over their banks, and fields won’t dry out in time for planting, he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Farther south, in northeast and central South Dakota, wet conditions also have delayed spring planting, but farmers there likely aren’t complaining about the moisture, said Mike Gillespie, hydrologist at the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls.

“We have had pretty bad drought conditions across a pretty good chunk of the state,” he said.

However, moisture has improved during the last few weeks in eastern and central South Dakota..

“Over the last two weeks, basically all of eastern South Dakota has received over 2 inches of rain, and an area in central South Dakota has received 4 to 6 inches,” Gillespie said. ”This moisture is very beneficial, very much needed.”

Pockets of South Dakota, though, remain too dry.

“It would be nice to get some more rain into the far west and northwest part of the state,” Gillespie said.

The weather pattern in South Dakota also is forecast to return to dry and hot conditions in July and August, according to the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.

“Hopefully we can get enough rain through the rest of May and into June to get through July and August,” Gillespie said.

ADVERTISEMENT

The forecast for the remainder of May in South Dakota is for normal to below normal precipitation.

“Hopefully, June should average out pretty close to normal,” Gillespie said. In Sioux Falls, June, which averages 4 inches of rain, typically is the wettest month of the year.

Related Topics: AGRICULTUREWEATHERCROPS
Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
What to read next
Rather than a hot, dry summer, StormTRACKER meteorologist John Wheeler says the excessively wet spring in the northern Plains — and North Dakota in particular — may mean the region will end up with a warm, wet beginning of summer. Wheeler's agriweather forecast discusses the impact of all the moisture on the continuing weather pattern.
Nature's beauty from a weather perspective
StormTRACKER meteorologist John Wheeler explains how the current pattern of seasonally warm days followed by rain is likely to continue for the time being on this week's AgweekTV agriweather forecast.
Breaking News
A derecho – a large-scale wind storm with 90- to 100-mph straight winds and two tornados – blasted through eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota on May 12, 2022, killing one, damaging buildings including hundreds of farms.