The landscapes of north central and northeastern Minnesota continue to exhibit the lingering impacts of considerable precipitation deficits
accrued during 2006.
The latest U. S. Drought Monitor places north central and northeastern Minnesota
in the Severe Drought or Extreme Drought categories. The most intense drought conditions are reported along the Canadian border in all or portions of Lake
of the Woods, Koochiching, St. Louis, Lake, and Cook counties. Moderate Drought
conditions are reported in portions of northwestern, central, and east central Minnesota. Drought conditions improved across much
of central Minnesota during February, March, and early April. However, dry weather over
the past four weeks has reversed some of those gains, especially in east central Minnesota. The recent scarcity of precipitation has
also initiated an Abnormally Dry depiction for southeastern Minnesota. The U. S.
Drought Monitor index is a blend of science and subjectivity where intensity categories are based on several indicators.
Drought Impacts in 2007
There is an increased wildfire risk in northern Minnesota. As of May 15, the DNR
Wildfire Information Center reported 718 fires in 2007 (67,522 acres).
There are inadequate soil moisture conditions in northern Minnesota. This will further stress forest communities and make
them more vulnerable to pests.
There are low lake water levels and associated water access issues in northern Minnesota. Some far northern Minnesota lakes
are at their lowest levels in many years. Lake Superior is at its
lowest level in 80 years.
Streams may again drop below protected flow
thresholds in northern and central Minnesota. As of May 14,
DNR Waters reports that stream discharge across much of northern and eastern Minnesota is below the 25th percentile for the date. When stream discharge
drops below the 10th percentile for the date ("protected flow"), DNR Waters initiates procedures for the possible suspension of
surface water appropriation permits.
Inadequate soil moisture
conditions will impact the relatively small number of agricultural interests in north central and
northeastern Minnesota. The greatest impacts will be on pasture land and forage crops.
The Climate Prediction Center indicates a tilt towards
above-normal precipitation across Minnesota for the last two weeks of May.
The outlook for June, as well as the
June through August period, shows no tilt towards
either above-normal or below-normal precipitation. The precipitation deficits accumulated during the 2006 growing season were so
large that drought recovery will require many months of above-normal precipitation, or an extraordinarily heavy short-term episode.