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Sliver of Richland County remains drought free

Arnie Zent turns a windrow of field grass south of Bismarck on Thursday afternoon, Aug. 10, 2017 with plans to have it baled before the weekend. "It's CRP actually. I cut it every three years," said Zent, "and this hay is going to people who need it." Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune

WAHPETON, N.D. — Wahpeton in Richland County has the distinction of sitting amid the only strip of land in North Dakota that has not been rated abnormally dry or worse by the U.S. Drought Monitor this week.

Pastor Matthew Tooman, of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Wahpeton, digested the news in a humble manner on Thursday, Aug. 10.

"Humanity cannot control or influence weather or climate. We can study it and make predictions, but, in the end, we must acknowledge our limits," he said. "I do not know why the weather patterns move the way they do. As a Christian, I simply give thanks for the way that God has provided for the needs of people. I know that the benefits of the agricultural industry in this part of North Dakota reaches well beyond our geography."

Wahpeton had a population of 7,899 in 2015, according to the U.S. Census. As the county seat, it sits at the confluence of the Bois de Sioux River and the Otter Tail River. It is home to the North Dakota State College of Science and the Daily Wahpeton News.

Kathy Leinen, editor of the local newspaper, joked that a rain dance was conducted at noon each Thursday. On a more serious note, she had a number of observations to make.

"Richland County is in a unique situation as compared to the rest of North Dakota. Our growers have received a shot of rain when it was necessary. The corn is growing tall, although signs of heat stress are evident in the fields. The nice shot of rain we received Wednesday will help the sugar beets, corn and soybeans as they continue to mature in the fields," she said. "Area growers are wrapping up the wheat harvest, and many are surprised by the quality and yield of this year's crop."

On a more regional scale in the drought-afflicted Plains, the past week brought rains that carried relief to a few areas, slowed deterioration in others and had minimal effect on areas suffering from long-term impacts. Overall, abnormally dry areas increased from 96.91 percent of the state as reported on July 8 to 99.71 percent of the state this week.

National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center forecasts about an additional inch of rain through Aug. 15 across the upper Midwest and Great Plains. The local forecast is looking at chances for rain through Saturday. Temperatures are expected to remain in the 70s throughout the weekend.

Rainfall amounts of 1.29 inches this month in the Bismarck and Mandan area have surpassed the monthly average of .71 inches as of Wednesday. However, yearly rainfall of 7.84 inches remains significantly below the average of 12.24 inches for this time of year, according to the Weather Underground.

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