Temperatures throughout the region have been near-normal during the month of March and since the start of the year. Precipitation has been below normal to near record lows. Here are some highlights from the release of the March edition of Climate at a Glance.
For the statewide records, North Dakota observed their seventh driest March. Only an average of 0.21 inches of precipitation fell throughout the state, which was 0.53 inches below normal. Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming averaged below normal precipitation, while Colorado was near normal and Kansas was above normal.
At the county level, North Dakota had 12 counties in the top five driest months on record. Three of these counties (Eddy, Foster, and Sheridan) recorded their driest March on record. Outside of North Dakota, two other states had counties rank in the top five driest. South Dakota had two (Perkings and Harding), while Nebraska had one (Sheridan).
Statewide records since the beginning of the year indicate near-record dryness in the northern part of the region. South Dakota ranks second driest on record since January first. The statewide average precipitation has been around 45 percent of normal. Nebraska and Wyoming rank seventh driest, receiving 47 and 67 percent of their normal, respectively. North Dakota also ranked 13th, with around 60 percent of their normal precipitation. Colorado and Kansas were near normal during this period.
Nebraska is among the driest, with 28 counties in the top five driest since the beginning of the year. Of those 28, 15 ranks among the driest on record in the northern and central portions of the state. The driest is Loup County, having received only 16 percent of its normal precipitation. Several stations in the north-central parts of Nebraska have received only five percent of their normal precipitation through the end of March.
Similar to Nebraska, South Dakota has been extremely dry as well. 24 counties rank in the top five driest, while two (Gregory and Tripp) are the driest on record for this period. Five counties also ranked second driest during this period.
Elsewhere throughout the region, North Dakota has ten counties in the top five driest while Wyoming has four counties. Some areas like North Dakota will improve in the April rankings due to precipitation in April, while the central High Plains continue to remain dry this month.