Severe drought expands into metro

Thursday is “U.S. Drought Monitor” day. The latest drought report is out, and severe drought has expanded it’s grip into the north and east metro this week. Lawns and fields are now crispy and yellow in areas without irrigation.

Here’s the latest Minnesota map from today’s U.S. Drought Monitor.

Image: US Drought Monitor/USDA

79 percent of Minnesota is now abnormally dry or in drought

55 percent  of Minnesota is classified as in drought

7.6 percent of Minnesota is now in “severe drought.”

Significant rainfall over 2 inches in some areas eased drought in north central Minnesota this week.

Image: NOAA

The epicenter of the growing Midwest drought is Iowa, where 72 percent of the state is now in some stage of drought, with 41 percent in severe drought.

Image: US Drought Monitor/USDA

Most of Minnesota and Iowa now need between 3 inches and 6 inches+ of rainfall to end the current drought. Take a look at rainfall deficits since late June.

Image: MN DNR Climate Working Group

The prospects for meaningful rain look small in the coming weeks, as a persistent and dry northwest flow sends waves of cooler and mostly dry air south from Canada. NOAA’s GFS model cranks out only around 1 inch of rainfall in the next 16 days.

Image: NOAA via IPS Meteostar

There is still time to end the drought in Minnesota this fall, but we’ll need a shift to a wetter southwest flow aloft for at least a few weeks. Right now I don’t see that happening. If current weather patterns hold, we could be looking at a similar situation to last year when we entered winter with most of Minnesota in some phase of drought.

Weather fingers and toes are crossed for more rain at the Weather Lab this fall.

  • Renee Schwartz

    Paul, question, why two days before this post you were showing a wetter pattern and now this shows all dry in the forecast?