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John Wheeler, Published September 23 2012

Weather Talk: Drought to be expected as part of weather cycle

Below-average precipitation over the past 13 months has put our region into a drought. The ground is dry. The grass is brown. Rivers and lakes are low and covered with algae.

The Red River Valley has not experienced true drought conditions like this since the late 1980s. In fact, for most of the past 20 years, our region has been anomalously wet.

This rainy period in our recent history has misled many of us into believing that the current dry weather is abnormal. True, in a short-term sense, a drought is a period of abnormally low precipitation. But the bigger picture is that a drought is to be expected from time to time. In fact, the current drought could get much worse before it would begin to rival the 1988-89 drought, much less the multiyear drought of the 1930s.

Although it may not be convenient, drought is not weather gone wrong. Instead, it is a regular part of our weather cycle.


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