More 'out of character' rain in the forecast: Dickinson area could see up to 5 inches over next 5 days
The rain just won’t go away.
The precipitation is coming less than a week after parts of southwest North Dakota reported up to 10 inches of rain, which led to flash flooding along the Knife River and millions of dollars in damage in Dunn and Mercer counties.
“We do get these heavy rainfall systems in the summer, but back-to-back like this is a little out of character,” said Michael Mathews, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
NWS issued a hazardous weather outlook for all of western North Dakota on Wednesday morning, citing periods of thunderstorms with heavy rain in the forecast that could lead to flooding of streams and coulees because of excessive runoff, with the possibility of storms producing large hail and damaging winds Wednesday afternoon and evening.
Mathews said, so far, this August has been the fourth-wettest in Dickinson’s recorded history with 4.38 inches of rain. The record is 5.55 inches set in 1954, a mark which could be surpassed by the end of this week.
‘We don’t need rain’
The forecast is mostly unwelcome to farmers, especially those waiting for their wheat crops to ripen for an already-late harvest.
“I hate to say that in North Dakota that we don’t rain, but we don’t need rain,” said Delane Thom, manager of Southwest Grain.
Last week’s rain in southwest North Dakota had a damaging effect on many wheat crops as heavy rains and wind caused heavier-seeded areas — and in some cases, entire fields — to lay down.
“Once it goes down after it gets ripe, it’ll never come back up,” Thom said. “It takes quality away from it.”
Thom called it “unheard of” for southwest North Dakota’s crops to be so green at this time of year.
While southwest North Dakota is in for another continuing shot of rain, the NWS predicts northwest North Dakota could see more.
“The bull’s-eye for us is northwest North Dakota,” Mathews said. “Even a little bit further north than Williston is where we’re expecting the heaviest rainfall over the next five days.”
That didn’t sound good to John Salvevold, the agronomy manager at Horizon Resources in Williston, who said the majority of the crop in northwest North Dakota looks good and what hasn’t already been harvested is nearly ready.
Big rains could greatly affect the area’s early durum crop, he said.
“If we get a lot of rain on that, it’s going to affect the quality, it’s going to bleach it,” Salvevold said.
Most of southwest North Dakota’s durum crop is still ripening, and Thom said the rain is not going to help that process.
“Durum needs hot and dry right now to keep the amber color up,” Thom said. “It depends on the stage. If it’s still early and still green, it could be OK.”
Salvevold said northwest North Dakota was in need of fall rains after a dry spring and summer — but this isn’t the time for it.
“Nobody wants 3 or 4 inches of rain right now, not right at this point during the harvest,” he said. “But we do need rain this fall, for sure.”
Ag commissioner: Pay attention to livestock in flooding areas
As western North Dakotans learned late last week, It’s not just crops that could be hurt by these rains.
North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring urged farmers and ranchers in western and central North Dakota on Wednesday to protect their livestock from potential flooding and move hay bales from low-lying areas.
“Producers should consider moving their animals to higher ground and to take measures to protect buildings from flooding,” Goehring said in a news release.
Monke is the managing editor of The Dickinson Press. Call him at 701-456-1205 or tweet him at monkebusiness.