ST. PAUL — Parts of Minnesota are again experiencing severe drought this summer as above-average temperatures and below-average rainfall dry out the central region of the state, especially around the Twin Cities.
But while rainfall has been below average in central Minnesota, northern and far southern regions have so far been spared drought, according to data released this week by the US Drought Monitor. Areas of the state considered abnormally dry have expanded north of the Twin Cities into areas southwest of Duluth over the past week, but no drought has set in.
It’s a starkly different picture from the summer of 2021, when much of northern Minnesota was stuck in an extreme drought that the US Forest Service said contributed to several major fires in the Upper National Forest. That year, most of the state was experiencing its worst drought in decades, leading many cities to impose water restrictions.
“The wet spring was absolutely critical to really getting us out of this drought status everywhere,” said meteorologist Joe Moore of the National Weather Service in Duluth, who said lots of wet snow and normal to above-average precipitation. kept the north from drying out. out.
To further help the situation, this spring’s excessive rainfall, which led to flooding in the Rainy River Basin on the Canada-US border, effectively reversed the severe drought the north experienced last year, and it is drought in the region is unlikely for the foreseeable future, according to a May climate outlook report from the Duluth office of the National Weather Service.
But even though summer started wetter this year than in 2021, areas that are hotter and drier than normal can quickly go into drought. And in the case of the central part of the state, this is what happened.
“Summer is when we get most of our precipitation,” said Eric Ahasic, a meteorologist with the Chanhassen Meteorological Service. “And when it’s as hot as it has been, that means there’s even more evaporation than there normally is in a normal year. That’s how we get these droughts fairly quickly.
The Twin Cities Weather Service on July 20 reported the sixth hottest month and the 10th driest since 1873.
What happens next will greatly depend on how much precipitation Minnesota receives over the next few months. May-September is when the state receives the vast majority of its precipitation (4 to 5 inches), and in recent months there haven’t been many falls in central Minnesota, Ahasic said. .
So far, about 1.5% of the state is experiencing severe drought concentrated in the Minnesota River Valley and the southern Twin Cities region, according to the Drought Monitor. About 30% of the state is considered abnormally dry.
The US Drought Monitor’s seasonal outlook for July 21-October 21. 31 predicts drought development throughout the southern half of Minnesota. Forecasters do not expect a drought in North Dakota and do not expect an existing drought to extend into South Dakota.