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Recent moisture doesn't change drought in the western Dakotas, John Wheeler explains

Drought conditions across much of the Upper Midwest remained at the same levels recorded last week. The exception to that was North Dakota as extreme drought — the second-most severe drought category on the U.S Drought Monitor — crept east to cover the western two-thirds of the state.

The early drought of 2021 continues to be a significant concern for Upper Midwest growers and producers as spring planting draws near. The newest report of the U.S. Drought Monitor , released Thursday, April 15, to reflect conditions on Tuesday, April 13, shows drought conditions across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest states remained about the same as last week.

The April 15 U.S. Drought Monitor report, reflecting conditions as of April 13 in North Dakota. Extreme drought conditions crept east last week and now covers over 75% of the state, the most severe rating in the Upper Midwest. (U.S. Drought Monitor)

North Dakota continues to be in the worst shape in the Upper Midwest and was the only state in the region that had extreme drought conditions spread across the state. Over 75% of the state is now in extreme drought conditions, up 5% from last week.

Last week, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum declared a statewide drought disaster. In conjunction with the declaration, Burgum and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring announced the State Water Commission has reactivated the Drought Disaster Livestock Water Supply Project Assistance Program.

Conditions in other parts of the region have remained relatively unchanged.


The U.S. Drought Monitor report released April 15 showed worsening drought conditions across some Upper Midwest states, while others remained unchanged. (U.S. Drought Monitor)

Here's a look at how states in the region have changed in the past week:

Iowa: Iowa’s drought conditions very similarly reflect those of last week’s. Extreme drought conditions are down to zero percent. Last week it was at 1.89%. Severe drought is up slightly to 7.83% compared to 6.08% last year. The moderate drought category was down a couple tenths of a percent and currently sits at 4.8%. Abnormally dry conditions was at 28.21% and sits at 26.40% this week.

Minnesota: Prolonged rain events have lessened drought conditions in Minnesota. Less than 1% of the state is experiencing extreme or severe drought conditions. Ten percent of the state is in the moderate drought category, down 20% from last week, while 32.33% is considered abnormally dry, down 19.2% from the previous week.

Montana: Montana is still experiencing extreme drought conditions on the eastern side of the state. That category covers 8.46% of the state, up from 5.60% last week. Severe drought dipped slightly compared to last week, from 12.46% to 10.27%, while moderate drought was relatively unchanged at 25.9%. Abnormal drought conditions increased slightly from 39.97% last week to 41.84% this week.

Nebraska: Drought conditions in the Cornhusker State remained the same as those of last week. The state is experiencing no extreme drought conditions, with 7% of the state in a severe drought, and 16.41% in a moderate drought. Similar to last week, 37.95% of the state is considered abnormally dry.

North Dakota: Over three-quarters of North Dakota is now in the extreme drought category. That coverage spans the entire length of the western side of the state, all the way into the western edge of Pembina County in the northeastern side of the state, down to McIntosh County in south-central North Dakota. Recent rain and snow events in the eastern side of the state have lessened severe drought conditions from 23.98% last week to 17.19% this week. Moderate drought conditions remained about the same as last week at 4.80% and abnormally dry conditions are up to 2.16% after being 0% last week.

South Dakota: The eastern side of the state received some very welcomed moisture last week while the northwestern side continues to battle extreme drought conditions. This week, 5% of the state (located on the eastern side) is no longer categorized in a drought state. That is up from 0% last week. Extreme drought conditions increased just under five percent on the western side, going from 14.80% to 19.42%. Severe drought decreased from 24.94% to 20.22%, while moderate drought is also down from last week at 33.03% compared to 38.97%. Abnormally dry conditions increased one percent and now sits at 22.26%.


Wisconsin: Drought impacts were also lessened in Wisconsin, compared to last week. Less than 1% of the state is in the moderate drought category. None of the state is categorized in either extreme or severe drought. Abnormally dry conditions covers 36.92% of the state, which was over 50% less than last week.

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