Thirsty crops in the region got at least some rain over the weekend, and could be in line to get a little more, with thunderstorms predicted to sweep over the region from Sidney, Montana to the Williston area, as well as many points around and in between.
The National Weather Service recorded .79 inches of rain for Williston over the weekend, while for Sidney, Montana it recorded .54 inches. At the Williston Research Extension, NDAWN recorded .88 inches of rain.
“Seems like most of the rest of the county got more like .25 to .5 inches of rain,” said cropping specialist Dr. Clair Keene. “This will still help the wheat at this point. It’s not enough to put us in high-yield territory, but it should support the crop as it starts flowering and filling kernels.”
Much will depend on how much more rain and how hot and windy it is for the next three weeks, Keene added.
“More rain tomorrow and through next week would be very good, and would go a long way,” she said.
Both areas remain far, far behind year-to-date stats for precipitation. Williston has had a mere 3.63 inches of rain so far this year. The more normal average would be 7.13 inches.
For June, Williston has had about half the normal precipitation. It recorded 1.2 inches so far, including .79 inches from the weekend. June is usually around 2.52 inches of rain for the month.
Similarly in Sidney, June precipitation is .68 of an inch so far. Year-to-date, Sidney has had between 3.14 and 3.72 inches of rain for the year. More usually, it gets 7.12 inches.
Thunderstorms are in the forecast for the area Monday evening. These could be quite severe, and include the chance for large hail, damaging winds, and heavy rainfall in areas, potentially leading to minor flooding.
The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch Monday afternoon at about 5 p.m. that included Williams and McKenzie counties.
Scattered showers could also happen on Tuesday. All the action is likely to be over by Wednesday, however, according to the forecast model.
“We’re optimistic that the whole area that has been missing out on precipitation lately will get a decent amount,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Megan Jones. “Hopefully not too much, though, because we are also concerned about flash flooding.”
Storms in June are often hit or miss, Jones added.
“For the places that do get a good thunderstorm overhead, they may get plenty of rain. We had a lot of locations reporting close to an inch, or over an inch just from yesterday.”
The western half of North Dakota and eastern half of Montana have had dramatically less precipitation this spring, which will send the area’s crops into the hot summer months with far less moisture than normal.
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows half or more of Williams County in a moderate drought, while the other half from here on past Sidney is abnormally dry.
Wheat, canola and other crops have been suffering as a result. The bottom leaves of wheat are yellowing in many fields, and some is heading out early, on shorter plants than usual.
USDA Crop Progress reports have been showing steady declines for the condition of wheat and many other crops. Now is a critical time for many of the region’s crops, but timely rain could help preserve at least some yield for a variety of crops.