Dry in the West, Wet in the East

Rain and snow helped alleviate dry conditions across much of the Northern Plains, but extreme drought conditions worsened inareas not receiving this moisture. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows extreme drought conditions in North Dakota worsening to reflect growing moisture deficits. That extreme drought now covers 76 percent of the state, an increase of six percentage points from the previous week. Sargent and Richland Counties had a slight improvement in dry conditions. In Minnesota, locally heavy rainfall in the last week brought a two-category improvement in dryness across the western side of the state. There is also no more extreme drought in Kittson County.

Dry Conditions Expand in North Dakota

While dry conditions in Minnesota remain unchanged from the previous week, extreme and severe drought conditions are expanding in North Dakota. According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, extreme drought conditions stretch upward from Billings County into Towner County, North Dakota. The drought conditions in Walsh, Grand Forks and Nelson counties are worsening to more severe drought. Minnesota is mostly in abnormal to severe drought conditions. View the Drought Monitor.

Dry Conditions Continue to be Monitored in the Northern Plains

As winter begins, there’s a lack of moisture across the Northern Plains. The soil moisture will need a recharge going into spring. “It looks like most soils are frozen in North Dakota, so there’s probably not much of a chance to get a soil recharge right now, but it’s always good to get snow on the landscape,” said Dennis Todey, director, USDA Midwest Climate Hub.
There’s been minimal snowfall so far. In the near term, there doesn’t look like there’s much of a change. “We’re also looking at what La Nina may bring and what that means in the winter. The long-range outlook does hint at the pattern getting more active eventually.” Todey said there is still time for soil moisture to recharge.
View the latest drought maps.