BISMARCK – Expect colder than average temperatures, perhaps more snow than usual, and little change in drought conditions across the state this winter. That’s the gist of the latest Drought Briefing issued by the Bismarck office of the National Weather Service.
The NWS cites ongoing La Nina conditions have a major influence on weather expectations this winter. Our second consecutive La Nina winter favors a “mild end to fall before a transition to near normal or colder than normal temperatures during the winter and early spring.”
The Drought Briefing adds there are indicators that favor above average snowfall.
Currently only the far northwest area of North Dakota is rated as being in extreme drought, with lesser drought or dry conditions over the remainder of the state. Little change is expected to occur during winter.
Overall though, North Dakota has improved greatly from the exceptional drought conditions, the highest designation issued by the U.S. Drought Monitor, that blanketed most of the state earlier this year. While the state has experienced warmer average temperatures the past four months, some areas received some much needed precipitation.
“Precipitation amounts have varied significantly across the state, with the northwest corner still well below normal, while areas in the southeast have received enough precipitation to be removed from all drought categories,” reads the Drought Briefing.
The greatest concern for farmers and ranchers is whether or not dry conditions will persist as temperatures warm next spring. The NWS says colder than average temperatures should help preserve any snow received this winter, meaning more moisture for the runoff season.
The Drought Briefing concludes that “the odds for continued improvement are higher than for a return to the very dry conditions of the past 18 months.”