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The Newest Drought: The Dakotas

27 Jun 2017, 2:37 pm

As droughts across the West and South have tapered, a new one is emerging across the Dakotas and the High Plains.

Pockets of extreme drought, the second-highest level of drought on the U.S. Drought Monitor’s five-part scale, have emerged in parts of North and South Dakota, along with Montana in the drought monitor’s updates this month.

Millions of dollars of crops have been lost in the drought, and both North and South Dakota have declared statewide fire and drought emergencies.

It’s all considered to be a short-term drought, with the majority of the rainfall deficit coming in May and June. Between those two months, Bismarck, North Dakota, for example, is nearly four inches below average, accounting for virtually the entire year-to-date drought figures. Pierre, South Dakota only saw about a third of its typical rainfall during the month of May, and is in a deficit again in June. Perhaps the biggest deficit of all is in Glasgow, Montana, which has only seen 0.71″ of rain in May and June combined, far less than the 3.99″ it typically gets during that time span.

Typically, late May and June brings several rounds of thunderstorms to this part of the country, leading to the increased risk for severe weather, but also providing beneficial rainfall that’s critical for crop growth in the region. This year, however, those storms haven’t been quite as frequent, more often than not either straying north into Canada or further south and east into Kansas, Nebraska and Minnesota.

A few showers and storms could move through the affected areas on Wednesday and Thursday, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that it will make a significant dent in drought conditions.

Stay with WeatherNation for the latest on this emerging story.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Chris Bianchi

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