The term, "water year," is used by climatologists and hydrologists to track the use of water resources throughout the year. October is used as the beginning of the water year because this is when water inputs begin to exceed the losses to evaporation and soil moisture begins to recharge for the following summer's heavy usage. With one week to go, three of the weather stations with very long and complete periods of record in our region are showing very different totals for the 2020-21 water year.
For Bismarck, barring any more rain this month, this is the third driest water year on record. The 8.86 inches ranks behind the 8.16 inches in 1933-34 and the 6.70 inches in 1935-36. The Fargo water year was in third place in August, but recent rain has dropped the ranking to 13th driest at 14.79 inches. The 1935-36 water year is the driest at 9.77 inches. Meanwhile, the water year in Minneapolis delivered 25.69 inches of precipitation, which ranks 58th.