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Flash droughts tend to be disproportionately destructive because they intensify rapidly and are difficult to prepare for. We demonstrate that the 2017 U.S. Northern Great Plains (NGP) flash drought was preceded by a breakdown of land-atmosphere coupling. Severe drought conditions in the NGP were first identified by drought monitors in late May 2017 and rapidly progressed to exceptional drought in July. The likelihood of convective precipitation in May 2017 in northeastern Montana, however,doi:10.5194/hess-2018-211 fatcat:5qhkyfog3zbydfrbe6fsth5nke