Recent rain not enough for significant impact on drought

May 31, 2021

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Recent rain has been beneficial for North Dakota’s drought conditions, but hasn’t been enough to make a significant impact, according to this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor map.

It shows much of southwestern North Dakota has been downgraded from extreme drought to severe. Extreme drought is down to 59% of the state, down from 68% last week.

The worst of four drought categories is exceptional That is up slightly from the previous week and now covers about 18% of the state.

As much as 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) of rain fell in parts of the High Plains during the week, according to meteorologist Adam Hartman at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“In the Dakotas … the heavy rainfall, although beneficial, was only enough for minor reductions” in drought, he wrote. “Reports indicate much of this week’s heavy rains was immediately absorbed by the severely dry soils, with no runoff into empty dugouts or ponds.

Hartman said in some locations, the rain fell so quickly that it didn’t allow time to infiltrate the top soil, resulting in some erosion, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

North Dakota is the only spot in the country, outside of the Desert Southwest, with exceptional drought. It’s only the third time since 2000 that drought has reached that level of intensity in the state, according to the National Weather Service.

“Widespread precipitation over the past two weeks has been helpful, but significant impacts from drought conditions continue,” the agency said in its briefing. “Drought is likely to persist through the summer, although some areas could see improvement due to summer rains.”