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Drought creeps up in southeast North Dakota, but rest of state in good shape; cool weekend in store

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Peyton Krentz, left, and Logan Stettner fish from the Missouri River shore near Keelboat Park in Bismarck on a recent hot day. "We are just taking a couple of casts before going to work," Krentz said. Both are avid anglers and said the fish have been biting at Nelson Lake near Center and at Sugar Loaf (Graner Bottoms) near Huff.

Dry conditions are starting to intensify in the southeastern corner of North Dakota, but soil moisture in the rest of the state remains plentiful.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map, released Thursday, shows most of Richland County as being abnormally dry. That's still less than 2% of the state. Last year at this time, all of North Dakota was in some form of drought, with nearly two-thirds of the state in the extreme or exceptional categories, the two worst.

This week's crop report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service rates 79% of topsoil moisture supplies statewide and 83% of subsoil moisture as adequate to surplus. That compares with 37% and 21%, respectively, a year ago.

The condition of all major crops in North Dakota remains mostly in the "good" rating. Nearly all of the state's staple spring wheat crop has headed, but maturity at 4% lags well behind the average pace of 21%.

Pasture and range conditions statewide are rated 77% good to excellent, and the alfalfa hay crop is 80% in those categories. Stock water supplies are rated 92% adequate to surplus. All of the percentages are down from last week but dramatically higher than a year ago, when they were 2%, 3% and 11%, respectively.

Looking ahead

Dickinson on Thursday broke a high temperature record that had stood for 129 years.

The city reached 102 degrees, eclipsing the previous high mark of 101 degrees set in 1893, according to the National Weather Service.

Much of western and central North Dakota has seen near-record heat this week, due to a mass of trapped warm air known as a heat dome. But a much cooler weekend is in store. The weather service forecast calls for high temperatures in the Bismarck-Mandan area only in the 60s on Saturday and the 70s on Sunday, with a chance of rain both days.

However, the outlook for next week is a return to above-normal temperatures throughout the Great Plains, including the Dakotas, according to National Drought Mitigation Center Climatologist Curtis Riganti. The center partners with the federal Agriculture Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the Drought Monitor.

Normal highs for this time of year in Bismarck-Mandan are the mid-80s.

Reach News Editor Blake Nicholson at 701-250-8266 or


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