Signs of drought crop up across Northeast Montana
Signs of drought crop up across Northeast Montana.
Drought conditions in Northeast Montana have developed rapidly since the end of April.
Despite two consecutive years of record precipitation in 2015 and 2016, the winter months of 2017 did not bring much moisture; and while precipitation totals for April were average, May has seen only 25 percent of normal precipitation, along with above-normal temperatures.
Rainfall is critical at this time of year for dryland producers across the region.
“This one took us by surprise,” said Ada Montague, staff person for the Governor’s Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee (DWSAC) and a water planner with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.
“While Wibaux and Fallon counties were on our radar, we did not anticipate such dry conditions would develop so quickly across such a large area.” While subsoil moisture is holding steady at normal, Montague said topsoil conditions to about eight inches below the surface are below average.
Wind and above-normal temperatures have played a major role in depleting surface moisture, she noted.
Reports of dry conditions are also coming in from Valley and Sheridan counties.
“We have made reports to the US Drought Monitor of the impacts to ag producers in Northeast Montana,” said Montague.
The next Governor’s Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee meeting will be held on June 20, 2017, from 9-11 am at DNRC Headquarters in Helena.