Drought and fire danger rapidly increasing across Minnesota

Forecast models suggest less than an inch of rain in next 10 days

The steamy summer of ‘21 is off and running. And growing drought and fire danger are byproducts of our hot dry weather pattern. Looking at the forecast maps, drought and fire danger are very likely to get worse before they get better.

Dryness expanding

Here’s the U.S Drought Monitor from last week. You can see that now 73 percent of Minnesota is either abnormally dry or already in drought.

Drought update this week
U.S. Drought Monitor/USDA/NOAA/University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Precipitation over the past month has run from 10 percent of average to 75 percent of average across most of Minnesota. The driest areas have been across north central Minnesota where very little rain has fallen in the past month.

30-day precipitation departure from average
30-day precipitation departure from average
Midwest Regional Climate Center

June is our wettest month of the year on average in Minnesota, with around 4 inches of rainfall on average. Many locations in Minnesota have recorded little or no rainfall so far in June. That’s a rainfall deficit of 1.3 inches already this month for many locations.

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Thursday brings the release of the latest U.S. Drought Monitor. I expect dryness and drought categories to show an increase.

Fire danger growing rapidly

I continue to be very concerned about the potential for large wildfires in Minnesota this year. Fire danger is already high to extreme across most of Minnesota.

Fire danger in Minnesota
Fire danger in Minnesota
Minnesota DNR

Forecast: Little rain in the next 10 days?

The forecast models do not look favorable for widespread heavy rainfall in the next 10 days. Spotty showers and thunderstorms may drop local downpours in some areas, but overall rainfall coverage looks spotty.

Wednesday’s Canadian model run suggests less than an inch of rainfall across most of Minnesota in the next 10 days.

Canadian model precipitation output
Canadian model precipitation output through 7 a.m. June 19.
Environment Canada via pivotal weather

The European model is even less optimistic, with very little rainfall across most of Minnesota in the next 10 days.

European model (ECMWF) precipitation output
European model (ECMWF) precipitation output through 7 a.m. June 19.
ECMWF via pivotal weather

If these model forecasts verify, expect Minnesota to plunge headlong into drought by the time we get to late June. And expect fire danger to reach critical levels.

I hope these model forecasts suggesting extreme dryness at the height of the summer evaporation season are wrong.

Stay tuned.