Over most of North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, precipitation since Sept. 1 is running about 15-30% of average. Because fall and winter precipitation is typically a small fraction of what falls in spring and summer, this only represents about three to four inches. A couple of heavy thunderstorms could make up the difference. Nevertheless, it is dry across the northern plains. Because it is the middle of winter, our water needs are quite limited at the moment.

In just three months, however, field work for summer crops will begin. Those crops will require moisture in the seed bed just to germinate, and timely rainfall to remain green and healthy and productive. Weather patterns are known to change abruptly and so there is no reason in the middle of winter to fear a summer drought. Nevertheless, it is dry.

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