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North Dakota Water Science Center

Drought Watch

When has North Dakota experienced droughts?

Date Area Affected Recurrence Interval Remarks
1885-86 Western part of State Unknown Especially severe in 1886; crops poor.
1929-42 Statewide 25 to 74 years Regional drought.
1952-62 Statewide 26 to 50 years Less-than-normal runoff in several consecutive years.
1972-77 James River and Beaver Creek 5 to 58 years Localized drought in south-central part of State.
1980-81 Parts of the Red River of the North and Missouri and James River Basins 5 to 58 years Less-than-normal runoff for 2 years.
1988-92 Statewide 19 to 54 years Warm, dry conditions that resulted in less-than-normal streamflow across the State.


Data Source:

Ryan, G.L., Klapprod, L.A., 1991, North Dakota floods and droughts: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 2375, p. 435-442.

Williams-Sether, Tara, Macek-Rowland, K.M., and Emerson, D.G., 1994, Climatic and hydrologic aspects of the 1988-92 drought and the effect on people and resources of North Dakota: North Dakota State Water Commission Water Resources Investigation 29, 57 p.

Williams-Sether, Tara, 1999, From dry to wet, 1988-97, North Dakota: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-075-99, 4 p.



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