Map: Drought Expected to Continue on Northern Plains

NOAA’s climate prediction center is forecasting widespread severe to exceptional drought to continue to dominate the US northern Plains this winter.

Released last week, NOAA’s 2021 Winter Outlook — which extends from December 2021 through February 2022 — also indicates that drought will persist and develop in the southern Plains, where farmers are now planting the 2022 winter wheat crop (see map below).

Drought decimated a number of crops on the northern Plains this summer, with spring wheat output in the largest US production state of North Dakota tumbling 36.7% from a year earlier to 174.5 million. Durum production in the state fell even more sharply down nearly 44% on the year to 19.6 million bu. Continued dryness this winter does not bode well for 2022 planting conditions, especially if the spring remains dry as well.

Meanwhile, dryness on the southern Plains may not bode well for next year’s US winter wheat crop either, although spring moisture remains the largest yield-determining factor.

The latest weekly US drought monitor showed more than 77% of North Dakota in form of drought as of Oct. 19, with just under 15% of the No. 1 winter wheat state of Kansas impacted by drought.

In general, NOAA’s winter outlook calls for warmer-than-average conditions across the south and most of the eastern US, while below average temperatures are expected for southeast Alaska and the Pacific Northwest eastward to the Northern Plains. In terms of precipitation, wetter-than-average conditions are most likely in parts of the North, primarily in the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and western Alaska. Drier-than-average conditions are favored in south-central Alaska, southern California, the Southwest, and the Southeast.

Winter drought outlook

Source: DePutter Publishing Ltd.

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