Map: Drought in North Dakota, Other Plains States on the Rise 

The amount of drought in North Dakota surged this past week, increasing by almost 12-fold. 

The latest weekly update of the US drought monitor on Thursday showed slightly more than 60% of the state was impacted by some form of drought as of Tuesday, up from only around 5% just a week earlier. Meanwhile, 94% of the state was considered abnormally dry, up roughly 10 points on the week and more than 60 points higher than early September. 

As recently as mid-July, no part of North Dakota was in drought or even deemed abnormally dry. 

The situation in North Dakota is indicative of the trend across the entire US central Plains, with the amount and severity of drought also increasing in recent weeks across South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas (see map below).  

For example, more than 80% of the No. 1 winter wheat production state of Kansas was in some form of drought as of Tuesday, with more than half of the state (53%) in extreme to exceptional drought. In Nebraska, some form of drought was encompassing more than 95% of the state as of Tuesday, including more than 30% in extreme to exceptional drought.  

Things are not quite as dire in South Dakota, although some form of drought was still impacting almost half of the state (48%) as of Tuesday. 

The drought monitor commentary noted that “especially dry areas” occurred in parts of the Dakotas and Kansas – along with Montana and Colorado - this past week, with the lack of rain also accompanied by unusually hot temperatures. 

Groundwater levels are low, with wells in Wichita, KS, going dry, the commentary added.  

Media reports also said a water emergency developed in Caney, a town in southeast Kansas, when water stopped flowing over the Little Caney River’s dam, leaving six weeks of water supply left. 

According to USDA statistics, topsoil moisture in all Plains states was rated at least one-half short to very short as of Sunday. In Nebraska and Kansas, three-fourths of the pasture and rangeland was rated in poor to very poor condition, while in South Dakota it was rated 55% poor to very poor. 

Central Plains drought monitor

Source: DePutter Publishing Ltd.

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