Drought 2009 (updated June 25, 2009)
Portions of Minnesota are in the throes of drought. Minnesota's present drought conditions are the result of two spells of dry weather.
Long-term dry spell: In east central and southeast Minnesota, a long-term episode of dryness began in mid-June of 2008 and continues to the present. Long-term precipitation deficits in these areas range from six to twelve inches (map below). Counties in this area are categorized as experiencing Moderate to Severe drought by the U.S. Drought Monitor (map at right). The greatest impacts of this drought are observed in east central Minnesota and extend east and north into north central Wisconsin.
2009 growing season dry spell:
2009 growing season precipitation has been well short of historical averages across most of the southern two-thirds of Minnesota. Many central and southern Minnesota counties are categorized as being Abnormally Dry (map at right). The area experiencing 2009 growing season precipitation shortfalls overlaps with the long-term drought area, amplifying the problem in those counties. Precipitation totals have been roughly one-half of the historical average since April 1, falling short of the average by two to five inches (maps below). Growing season precipitation for an area of west central Minnesota that extends roughly from Canby to Willmar to Alexandria to Wheaton, ranks below the 5th percentile (one year in 20) in the historical distribution. This area is relying heavily on moisture reserves built up during a wet autumn 2008 and a wet March 2009.
June is historically the wettest month of the year, averaging roughly an inch of rain per week. Weekly rainfall totals through Monday morning (June 22) failed to keep pace with climatological averages in drought-stricken areas north and east of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. (map at right). Welcome rain was received in central Minnesota counties such as Todd, Morrison, Stearns, and Benton where precipitation totals ranged from one to three inches. Needed rain also fell in southeastern Minnesota counties such as Steele, Dodge, and Wabasha. Excessive rain was reported in portions of Wilkin and Otter Tail counties in west central Minnesota, and northern Faribault and Freeborn counties in southeastern Minnesota. In some of these areas a deluge of three to seven inches of rain led to flooded fields, road washouts, and wet basements. Temperatures for the week were generally two to four degrees above the historical mean.
- Agriculture - The Agricultural Statistics Service reports that as of June 21, 25 percent of Minnesota's topsoil moisture across was "Short" or "Very Short". This is a nine percent improvement from the previous week. In spite of the dry conditions, very little of Minnesota's cropped acreage is described as being in poor or very poor condition.
- Stream flow - Stream discharge in many eastern and central Minnesota rivers and streams rank below the 25th percentile in the historical distribution for the date.
- Lake and Wetland Levels - Water levels on many east central Minnesota lakes and wetlands are quite low. The White Bear Lake Conservation District reports that White Bear Lake is within eight inches of its all-time record low level. Lake Minnetonka levels have declined since early spring. According to the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, discharge at Grays Bay Dam, the outlet to Minnehaha Creek, has been suspended per operating procedures.
- Wildfire Danger - The Department of Natural Resources - Division of Forestry classifies wildfire danger as Low throughout Minnesota, with the exception of Carlton County and southern St. Louis County where the fire danger is considered Moderate.
Long-term deficit map: