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Drought conditions worsen in North Dakota

March 13, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Drought conditions have got worsened and are more widespread in North Dakota, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map.

Observers say 80% of the state is now in severe drought, including the western two-thirds of North Dakota. The rest of the state is in moderate drought.

“Livestock producers in the Dakotas are already separating out their animals in anticipation of needing to sell some off due to drought in the region,” said climatologists at the National Drought Mitigation Center.

North Dakota has been warmer and drier than average since last October. And according to the National Weather Service, the conditions are expected to persist or worsen through spring and into summer. That would increase the threat of wildfires.

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At least three dozen wildfires in the state have burned more than 20000 acres (31.2 square miles), according to the National Drought Mitigation Center. The weather service on Friday cautioned about “near critical fire weather conditions” in the southwest, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Morton County has tightened its burn ban as conditions worsen.

The county commission has ordered a total burn ban, with the only exceptions being the use of gas grills and gas stoves kept a safe distance from any combustible materials.