Precipitation statistics appear misleading
After dealing with frequent high-volume rainfall and soggy conditions throughout the summer, Oliver County residents may find area precipitation statistics difficult to swallow. According to the National Weather Service in Bismarck, the Center 4 Southeast precipitation readings for the first eight months of this year total 2.24 inches less than January through August rainfall averages from 1938 through 2013. The historical January - August average is 13.39 inches; this year’s readings only total 11.15 inches.
“Precipitation is not a uniform thing like temperature is,” NWS Meteorologist Janine Vining said, explaining that readings are at just one point in an area. “With thunderstorms, one place can have two inches of rain, another place a mile a way can have one inch. It varies so much because that’s the nature of thunderstorms and showers.”
Oliver County Extension Agent Rick Schmidt concurred with Vining’s assessment, noting that local conditions are at odds with the statistics. Most years, the countryside would be dry and brown in August, but this year the landscape is still green.
Schmidt attributed the weather’s effects on local agriculture to not only the amount of rainfall but also the timing, as the storms have come late in the growing season. Moist conditions have caused grain to be too wet to harvest and, when it can be harvested, the moisture content is too high.
“The elevators aren’t going to accept wheat that’s over 14.5 percent moisture and we’re not near that at this time,” Schmidt said.