Even several days of rainy and overcast weather has not really changed the climate conditions in the state of North Dakota – especially in the southwest portion of the state.
According to the office of the state climatologist, 98 percent of the state is still in drought. Seventy-six percent of the state is in extreme drought, while 94 percent is considered to be in at least severe drought.
March 2021 was reported as the second driest and the fourth warmest on record since 1895.
As of April 13 when the last drought condition map was released, although no part of the state was listed as being in an exceptional drought (D4), three-quarters of the state was listed just one step below in D. That was a five percent increase over the previous week (April 6).
According to the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center, the upper plains region has an equal chance of being drier, wetter or normal in May.
The southwestern corner of the state has gotten slight precipitation recently, but much more is need to break the drought.
One by-product of the drought has been the recent spate of wildfires which have struck places like Medora, Williston and some of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park along the state’s western edge.
According to meteorologist Adam Jones of the National Weather Service’s Bismarck office, there has been some benefit to the recent light rains.
“About the only impact that it has had is assisting with the greening up of vegetation. As far as the deeper underlying drought, it hasn’t done anything to mitigate that,” Jones said Monday.
“Unfortunately it is still in an extreme drought there and it looks like it is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Even if we do get a little more rain, we are just so dry that it would take over an inch of rain (to change the drought conditions in the southwest portion of the state).
It would take close to two inches of rain to get back to normal conditions, he added.
“It doesn’t look like we will be getting anywhere close to that in the next few weeks or so. It looks at least for the next couple of weeks and couple of months it is not likely.
“It looks like the drought is going to continue to hang around for awhile,” he said. “If we get some more rain, we could keep it from getting worse, but we need quite a bit of rain to actually take us back in the other direction,” Jones added.
“Things are pretty dry out there,” he said, referring to the western part of the state.