MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Brush fires over the last two days have shown just how dry it is around Minnesota. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 90 percent of the state is under a moderate drought.
The easiest place to see the impact of the dry conditions is at lakes or rivers, where most waterways have a couple extra feet of shoreline.READ MORE: Alec Baldwin Fired Prop Gun That Killed Cinematographer, Injured Director On Movie Set (CBS News)
On Lake Minnetonka’s Black Lake, all signs of winter have melted away.
“They’re saying by next Monday, we should have open water,” said Naresh Uppal, who lives on Lake Minnetonka. “I have the jet ski and boat cleaned up and ready to go.”
Uppal is ready to begin the boating season, but he’s already noticed a potential delay due to the low lake levels. The 2.5 extra feet of shoreline on his lakefront property are the result of a dry winter.
“It’s going to cause issues for the larger boats,” Uppal said. “So you have a higher chance of actually hitting the bottom of the lake.”
Low water levels aren’t just a Lake Minnetonka issue.
“Roughly 90 percent of the state is in that drought status,” DNR climatologist Greg Spoden said.READ MORE: 3 People Shot In Separate Minneapolis Shootings Thursday Night
Spoden said a springtime drought is more unusual considering lakes and rivers typically recharge from the snow melt.
But the Twin Cities is 20 inches below its average snow total, and across the state, the overall precipitation is three to five inches behind average.
“If we look at Twin Cities precipitation to date, just for the calendar year, it’s the 11th driest in 145 years on modern record,” Spoden said.
It’s so dry that the flooding and record-high lake levels from the rain last June are a mere memory.
“What has happened is, since a very wet spring of 2014, Mother Nature has turned off the faucet,” Spoden said. “We had a dry end to the summer, fairly dry autumn, and everyone knows what a snow-sparse winter we’ve had.”
Yet Minnesota is known for its climate of extremes, and a drought rebound is just a few showers away.
Spoden said the drought won’t have a huge impact on the growing season because there’s still moisture in the soil.MORE NEWS: Data Show COVID Cases In Minnesota Schools Have Declined, But Experts Still Watching For Long-Term Trends
The real concern is if the lack of rain continues past spring and into the summer.