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Rain in 2019: A year for the record books at the Northwest Research and Outreach Center

Flooded soybean field in Crookston, MN, October 11, 2019.

This article was written by Michael Leiseth, who works as a researcher 2 at the Northwest Research and Outreach Center (NWROC) in Crookston. He is responsible for collecting and compiling the center’s weather data.

Recently, I was asked to compile the last 5 years of growing season rainfall. Growing season being April through October. This sparked my curiosity. How does the 2019 growing season stack up against the spread? You may have heard that this year has been extraordinary, but just how extraordinary has it been?

To this date, we have recorded 23.16 inches of rain at the NWROC. To put that into perspective.
On average, our growing season rainfall total is 17.49 inches. The all-time wettest growing season was in 1941 with a drenching total of 29.18 inches of rain. There have been 30 years since 1890 that we have had more than 20 inches of rain during the growing season and 18 years that we have had more than 22 inches of rainfall. Lastly, there have been 7 years with more than 25 inches of rain during the growing season. Those 7 years being 1891, 1905, 1941, 1968, 2002, 2004 and 2010.

So what does make this year so extraordinary? There have been 3 years since the year 1890.
That we have received more than 10 inches of rain during the months of September and October. Those three years being 1900, 1971 and 2019. In 1971, NWROC recorded 10.67 inches of rain during these two months. In 2019, we have recorded 11.01 inches of rain. This makes the fall of 2019 the wettest ever recorded and October is not over. The interesting thing about these 3 years is that they do not fall in with the seven wettest growing seasons. These 3 years received over half of the growing season’s rainfall during the harvest months of August – October.
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