Drought Stressed Lakes: Tonka hits 12 year low; Mildest weekend until spring 2013?

Nearly 12 years last time Tonka’s water level was lower – November 14, 2000 (927.67′)

927.74 feet above sea level – Water level in Lake Minnetonka this week

Down 19.44″ drop in Lake Minnetonka water levels since 2012 high point on June 22nd (929.38′)

White Bear record low? Water levels near record low level on White Bear Lake now (919.61′)

919.43′ lowest recorded water levels on White Bear (October 2010)

100% of Minnesota now in drought

30.18% of Minnesota now in extreme drought!

Minor relief 1″ to 2″ rainfall totals observed in western Minnesota through Friday

Indian Summer 60s & 70s this weekend!

70F possible in the metro by Sunday afternoon

+14 degrees vs. average by Sunday PM

Mildest weekend until spring? It’s possible…looking much colder by next weekend…into November

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Low water means high docks at Deepheavn Beach on Lake Minnetonka

Image: Paul Huttner – MPR News

Drought Deepens: Minnesota’s Incredible shrinking 10,000 lakes

Signs of Minnesota’s deepening drought are rapidly more visible these days. Just take a close look at your favorite lake or pond.

This week, Lake Minnetonka reached the lowest level in nearly 12 years. Tonka’s water level dipped to 927.74 feet above sea level Wednesday.

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Source: Minnehaha Creek Watershed District

That’s the lowest level in nearly 12 years according to MCWD data….since 927.67′ on November 14th, 2000.

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Source: MCWD

The Gray’s Bay Dam has been closed since August 20th. Without the Dam to hold back water in the big lake, Tonka’s level would no doubt be much lower in this deepening drought year of 2012. The lack of rainfall and any flow from Tonka into Minnehaha Creek means the usually laughing waters of Minnehaha Falls are basically silent this fall.

Trouble on White Bear:

As noticeable as the drop on Tonka, White Bear Lake is even more vulnerable to the effects of drought.

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Falling water levels mean closed beaches at White Bear Lake.

Source: Freshwater Society

White Bear is now at or near the all time record low of 919.43 feet. The last available reading from the White Bear Lake Conservation District website is 919.61′ as of September 18th… and falling.

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Docks search in vain for water on White Bear Lake

Image: Google Earth

Statewide Drought:

It’s not just the metro where drought starved lakes and rivers are feeling the effects.

Lakes and rivers all over Minnesota are thirsty for runoff. After a mercifully wet spring that saved most of Minnesota from summer drought, drought returned with a vengeance in late summer and fall.

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Source: U.S. Drought Monitor

Drought is a stealthy and insidious weather phenomenon. It creeps up on you when you’re not looking.

Most of Minnesota needs rainfall totals anywhere from 5″ to 11″ to recover at this point.

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Source: NOAA

That’s just not in the cards in the near future looking at the weather maps this weekend.

There are a few signs of more rain for Minnesota the next 2 weeks, and a large storm could favor northern Minnesota with some heavy rain (and snow?) totals next week. Right now I don’t see any 3″ to 5″+ rainfall totals for the metro in sight…and that’s what we really need to start digging our way out of what is turning into a serious drought.

If we can’t muster some serious multi inch rainfall totals soaking in before the soil freezes up in the next few weeks, drought will be the big weather story going into the spring of 2013.

Drought spawns dust storms:

As soils dry out and winds howl in the central plains, Arizona style dust storms are more frequent. This one was a duzy. Details from NBC & KFOR.

Indian Summer Weekend: Mildest weekend until spring?

Minnesotans will bask in relative warmth this weekend with 60s and 70s by Sunday.

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Source: NOAA

With much colder air on the way by next weekend, and November on the way after that…this could be the mildest weekend until March or April of 2013.


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Source: NOAA GFS via IPS Meteostar

Orionid’s may dazzle this weekend:

Thsi may be a great weekend to see the Orionids meteor shower. Details from WIRED.

One of the most spectacular night-sky shows will kick into high gear this weekend when the Orionid meteor shower peaks early in the morning on Oct. 20. It will continue to dazzle until just before dawn on the 21st.

The Orionids are cosmic leftovers — bits of rock and ice that remain behind from Halley’s comet, which last passed through the inner solar system in 1986. As the sun heated the famous comet, chunks of debris broke off, leaving a trail of material that the Earth passes through annually. The pieces hit the Earth’s atmosphere at 148,000 mph, burning up and leaving trails that sometimes shine green or orange.

Conditions for this year’s shower should be very promising, with the sliver of a first-quarter moon setting around midnight, leaving the night sky exceedingly dark. To watch the meteors, you can take a nice warm blanket out to an area far from city lights, like a state park, and lie back to get a good full-sky view. You can expect around 25 meteors to shoot overhead per hour during the shower.

“Octobomb” II next week?

The GFS is still winding up a huge and rapidly deepening low pressure storm next week. I don’t think we’ll see “Octobomb” record low pressures…but this will be a deep, wrapped up wind storm for most of Minnesota. Kiss the leaves goodbye…this should take care of most of the remaining leaves on trees.

The latest trends bring a strong low pressure center into northwest Minnesota Wednesday.

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Source: NOAA via IPS Meteostar

If that track verifies, heavy precip would favor northern Minnesota and North Dakota. The Twin Cities will be on the mild and drier side of the system and temps could surge back into the 70s Wednesday.

Most of Minnesota will see a big old windstorm next week.

We could see a day or two of sustained winds above 30 mph…with gusts over 50 or 60 mph in parts of Minnesota with this system.

Stay tuned!


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