Crop & Pest Report


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Weather Forecast (04/30/20)

The Weather Summary and Outlook

To start off the 2020 Crop and Pest report season, I thought I would give my outlook for the upcoming growing season.  Because of scheduling conflicts, illness and eventually the cancellation of several several public appearances due to the current COVID-19 situation, many of you probably did not get a chance to hear my weather projections for the summer of 2020. My projections for April/May was for cooler than average and wetter than average conditions with the bulk of the wet and cool coming in April and the first half of May, which seems to be working out well.   This month the average temperature at most NDAWN stations have been between five and ten degrees below average with most locations experiencing above average precipitation.


I am anticipating May to finished near or a bit below average for temperatures, but the month does not look anywhere near as cold as April (per average).   Precipitation in May is expected to be near average or below for most of the area, but there are almost always exceptions when it comes to long range precipitation projections as one thunderstorm can be the difference between being below or above average for precipitation.

Moving on to summer, there are a number of reasons to believe that June through August this year will be noticeably different than what we experienced in 2019 with perhaps the exception of northeastern North Dakota which may end up with a similar summer to 2019.  The Pacific Ocean has cooled since last year and the equatorial Pacific Ocean is expected to go from a weak El Niño (at least 0.5° C warmer than average in the equatorial Pacific) to slightly cooler than average.  Perhaps not technically a La Niña (at least 0.5° C cooler than average in the equatorial Pacific), but a transition to the cool side of average.  In the past when similar changes occurred, those summers were drier than average across much of the Northern Plains.  This should lead to a more consistent upper-level wind flow out of the northwest this summer, which leads to less Gulf of Mexico moisture moving north to feed into our thunderstorms.  Plus, the Atlantic Ocean temperature patterns have adjusted to a pattern that historically has brought a tendency to drier than average conditions to our region as well.

Although, not a forecast, but only a statistical observation, 2019 was a very wet year in most of North Dakota, with last autumn being a “white bison” incident.  A “white bison” incident is the phrase I use to describe an event or period not only well outside the norm, but also far removed from any other recorded condition.   The heat wave in the summer of 1936, the cold wave in the winter of 1936, or the heavy rain in March 2009 would be other events I would describe as “white bison” weather incidents.  I mention this because if you look through the weather records, almost all extremely wet years were followed by a year with average or below average rainfall.  That may only be a statistical observation, but an interesting pattern seen many times in the past 140 years of recorded weather conditions.

In Figure 2 and Figure 3 you will find images that represent conditions in the lower 48 states when we had similar atmospheric and oceanic conditions to what we have experienced in the past few months and what these conditions are projected to be this summer.  The plains under these scenarios tend to lean dry with rainfall near or below average and temperatures lean a bit warmer being near or slightly above average.   Of course, no one should change their plans based on these projections, but are given as potential guidance.




In the short term, warmer weather today (Thursday) and Friday.  Some hit and miss showers or thunderstorms are expected on Friday, especially across northern North Dakota into far northwestern Minnesota.  Another threat of rain will impact most of the area on Monday and lingering into Tuesday.  Neither system looks to be bringing widespread heavier rain, but localized 0.50” totals will be possible.  The rain early next week will drag in some cooler air from central Canada that looks to be lingering through much of next week.  Meaning, probably more days below average than above average for temperatures next week.  

I will start with my weekly summaries and more detailed projections in next week’s Crop and Pest Report.  If there is something in particular you would like me to forecast or talk about please send me an email request.


Daryl Ritchison


Director of the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network

This site is supported in part by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program [grant no. 2017-70006-27144/accession 1013592] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the website author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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