More than half of North Dakota in drought conditions

April 2, 2022

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A minimal amount of precipitation so far this spring has caused drought conditions to worsen in northwestern North Dakota.

According to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map (pictured), areas that have some form of drought increased by 2.6% over the past week to more than 54% of the state.

“Much of the High Plains remained dry last week resulting in deteriorating drought conditions across parts of the Dakotas and Nebraska,” National Drought Mitigation Center Climatologist Deborah Bathke wrote. “The eastern edges of abnormal dryness and moderate drought crept eastward. Severe drought expanded over a large swath from southwest North Dakota to central Nebraska.”

Drought has persisted in North Dakota for more than a year. Nearly all of central North Dakota is either abnormally dry or in moderate drought. Western North Dakota is in moderate or extreme drought, with the northwestern corner in exceptional drought, the worst category.

The eastern half of the state is no longer in any drought category, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Bismarck since the beginning of the year has received 1.2 inches (30.4 millimeters) of precipitation, six-tenths of an inch below normal, according to the National Weather Service.

Bathke offered little optimism.

“Short-term dryness is superimposed over long-term moisture deficits across the region,” she said. “The lack of seasonal snow cover combined with the onset of spring has people in the region worried. Soil moisture is very low, stream flows continue to decline and state reports indicate that stock ponds are drying up.”