MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — New data from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows that 63 percent of Minnesota is now in drought, an increase of 9 percent in just the last week.
“It’s extraordinarily dry, and it’s extraordinarily hot, and that’s a bad combination,” said Greg Spoden, state climatologist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Spoden said southwestern Minnesota and portions of south-central Minnesota are now in extreme drought, which he says is rare territory.
“That’s a 5 percent occurrence; in other words, one in 20 years,” Spoden said. “Quite uncommon to be that dry.”
Northwestern Minnesota, along the Red River Valley, is also very dry.
While rain is likely tonight, Spoden says the conditions will not be rectified with one dousing.
“This will take multiple, ample autumn rains for us to replenish our soil moisture reserves,” he said.
But no relief is in sight. The National Weather Service is predicting below-normal rainfall for September.
Spoden says in the extreme drought areas, the top three feet of soil is basically dust. While this year’s corn and soybean crop has been drawing on reserves, he says there is growing concern for next year.
In addition to the problems for farmers, the extremely dry weather is causing problems for horticulturists, increasing the danger of grassfire and wildfires, and impacting water levels.
“Stream flow is below the tenth percentile in many watersheds, lake levels are dropping, wetlands are drying up, so it has broad impact,” Spoden said.