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article imageDrought may expand its grip on north-central U.S. this summer

By Karen Graham     Jun 17, 2017 in Environment
Bismarck - It's June, and already, North and South Dakota are experiencing a severe drought, while portions of Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, and Michigan are experiencing abnormally dry conditions. And according to the forecast, it could get worse.
In North Dakota, cattle ranchers have begun selling off some of their herds because there just isn't enough grass to feed them.
And after going through a bad winter that saw a depleted hay supply, ranchers have been left without enough feed to get them through the summer and there is little hope for a good hay crop this summer. There is a considerable amount of concern that if the drought continues, it will have an impact on other crops in the region.
A look at the possible weather pattern behind the drought
The biggest issue is an expected high-pressure area that may become a permanent fixture over the Great Plains this summer. Normally, summer rainfall in this region is produced by large complexes of thunderstorms during the summer. But with the high-pressure system in place, storms will go around it rather than through the region.
The forecast is calling for a very large high-pressure system to stall over the High Plains  bringin...
The forecast is calling for a very large high-pressure system to stall over the High Plains, bringing extreme heat and dry conditions.
The high-pressure areas are large, mostly dry systems that spin clockwise, and if they become very strong, they can extend through several layers of the atmosphere, literally shutting down rainfall, while at the same time, allowing heat to build up to well above-average levels.
"We expect a large area of high pressure to become a semi-permanent feature over the Central states this summer," according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.
Extent of North Dakota drought.
Extent of North Dakota drought.
US Drought Monitor
North Dakota drought conditions
In North Dakota, drought conditions have worsened this week, despite a number of rain showers across the state. The U.S. Drought Monitor show all of the state as being under abnormally dry conditions or is some stage of drought. About 27 percent of the state is under severe drought conditions, up from 13.5 percent last week.
Central and south central North Dakota and the far northwestern corner of the state are under severe drought conditions while the Red River Valley is experiencing abnormally dry conditions. The rest of the state is experiencing moderate drought at this time. There are no extreme or exceptional drought conditions in North Dakota at this time.
Extent of Drought in South Dakota.
Extent of Drought in South Dakota.
US Drought Monitor
South Dakota drought conditions
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows that 80 percent of South Dakota is experiencing either abnormally dry conditions or is in some stage of drought. This is up slightly from last week's map. About 13 percent of the state is experiencing "severe" drought conditions, up from 11 percent last week.
The area of severe drought is confined right now to the north-central part of South Dakota. The rest of the northern half of the state is rated as being in a "moderate" drought. At this time, there are no areas of the state in extreme or exceptional drought conditions.
AccuWeather meteorologists are saying if this current trend continues through the middle of the summer, and the team believes it will, evaporation rates will be accelerated and sporadic rainfall will be critical for agriculture, especially for the corn crop in July. This is the time when corn is pollinating and the kernels are filling out. A lack of sufficient moisture will be devastating to the crop.
More about northcentral us, Drought, high pressure area, North dakota, cattle ranchers
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