Comparing the dry growing seasons of 1988 and 2009

Throughout my travels and conversations around the state this year several people have mentioned how dry this growing season has been and few have spoken about surplus or excessive moisture. Indeed, this is the 5th consecutive summer where drought has appeared in some sections of the state.

This year much of the drought is concentrated across the central counties from west to east.. In fact some locations are drier this growing season than they were back in 1988, the last widespread extreme drought in the state. Here are some comparisons between the rainfall deficits (inches below normal) for the 2009 growing season and that of 1988 using April 1 as a starting date and running through the first six days of August:

Morris 2009 -8.73″ 1988 -6.33″

Montevideo 2009 -6.89″ 1988 -8.06″

Redwood Falls 2009 -8.27″ 1988 -8.99″

Willmar 2009 -7.11″ 1988 -8.69″

Milan 2009 -8.32″ 1988 -6.97″

Olivia 2009 -6.11″ 1988 -8.18″

MSP Airport 2009 -7.19″ 1988 -7.64″

Forest Lake 2009 -8.19″ 1988 -5.82″

Rosemount 2009 -7.27″ 1988 -7.89″

Waseca 2009 -7.87″ 1988 -7.91″

From an impacts standpoint, the 1988 drought was more widespread and severe. The seasonal temperatures during that drought were also 5 to 8 degrees F warmer than those we have experienced in 2009, which has been a cooler than normal growing season.

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