MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The drought has intensified over the past week across broad swaths of Minnesota.
Thursday’s update from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows that a large portion of Minnesota that had been in a moderate drought is now in a severe drought. Eighteen percent was in a severe drought as of last week. That figure jumped 40 percentage points to 58 percent this week.
Areas that became drier include most of the northern half of Minnesota and parts of southeastern and south-central Minnesota.
Twenty-five percent of Minnesota remains in an extreme drought, a figure that’s held steady for the past month. That area includes a large portion of southwestern and south-central Minnesota and a pocket of the northwest.
Most of Minnesota has been in some degree of drought since mid-September.
Overall U.S. drought conditions have worsened for the second week in a row, reversing a recent easing in dry conditions in some areas and keeping the country mired in its worst drought in decades with no immediate relief expected for key Plains farming states.
The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday shows that 62.7 percent of the land in the lower 48 states was in some form of drought as of Tuesday, up from 60.1 percent the previous week. The area in extreme or exceptional drought — the two worst classifications — also rose, to 20.12 percent from last week’s 19.04 percent.
Before the recent downturn, overall conditions had gradually eased over five weeks, offering short-lived encouragement to some of the hardest-hit areas.
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