Drought’s impact has gripped northern Plains

Regina Bird

As we finish out the summer, drought conditions are still a big concern in parts of the Plains. The northern Plains have been especially hard hit where the Dakotas currently have the worst drought conditions. In North Dakota, ranchers are having to sell cattle due to lack of feed. Many are also cutting failed cash crops, according to the National Weather Service.

Of course drought doesn’t happen overnight. According to the National Weather Service, North Dakota in particular has been much drier and much warmer than normal since October 2020. Specifically, this summer Bismarck marked the most days in a year with temperatures at 100 degrees F or warmer. There was some welcomed rain at the end of the month in parts of North Dakota, but with this extent of drought it will take a long time of average or above average precipitation to clear the area of drought conditions.

Looking ahead to September in the northern Plains, below average precipitation will continue to be the case where that moisture is so desperately needed. Above average precipitation is currently forecast for central to eastern Texas into eastern Oklahoma.

For the northern Plains, the lack of moisture will likely still be an issue even the next three months. The area forecast to see below average moisture stretches from the northern plains into Nebraska, Kansas, western Oklahoma and western Texas.

For temperatures, next month should bring above average temperatures into the far northern Plains while eastern Texas and Oklahoma should see below normal temperatures. For the next three months, temperatures are favored to be above average for a majority of the central Plains—the exception will be eastern Texas.

In the wider range and longer term, ENSO-Neutral will transition to La Niña at some point this fall. Current long-term models are pointing toward a weak La Niña developing and sticking around into winter.

I’m always keeping an eye to the sky (and the weather patterns), so watch for next month’s update.

Editor’s note: Regina Bird grew up on a farm near Belleville, Kansas. The views from the farm helped spur her interest in weather. Following high school, she went on to get a bachelor’s degree in meteorology from the University of Kansas. She currently works as a meteorologist for NTV and KFXL in central Nebraska. Follow her on Twitter: @ReginaBirdWX