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John Wheeler: Is our climate getting drier again?

Water year running averages suggest our wet period may have peaked.

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FARGO — The period from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30 is known as the "water year." Water usage decreases dramatically in the fall and winter and so most of the precipitation that falls after Oct. 1 benefits the following spring and summer. The combination of a very wet late winter and spring combined with a dry summer and fall is working out to a near-average water year in the Red River Valley this year.

For Fargo, the three-decade average annual precipitation is 23.89 inches, and this water year's total is 24.56 inches. For Grand Forks, the average is 21.39 inches, and the present water year stands at 26.90 inches. Statistical five- and 10-year running averages of water year precipitation around the region show a peak in the early 1900s, a nadir in the 1930s, another peak in the early 2000s and a falling trend at present, suggesting the possibility that drier years should be expected in the years ahead.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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