Drought: 100% of Minnesota now 'abnormally dry'

The steamy summer of ‘21 is rapidly causing issues with drought and fire danger across Minnesota.

I posted Wednesday that I expected Thursday’s U.S. Drought Monitor report to show drought expanding across Minnesota. The update delivered that unwelcome news.

One hundred percent of Minnesota is now either “abnormally dry” or in drought conditions. The percentage of abnormally dry areas in Minnesota grew from 73 to 100 percent. The percent of Minnesota in drought grew from 13 to 46 percent.

Here’s the update from Thursday’s U.S. Drought Monitor release:

U.S. Drought Monitor for Minnesota
U.S. Drought Monitor for Minnesota
USDA/UNL

Widespread drought setting in

The growing coverage of the drought area is concerning at this point in the growing season. Iowa and Wisconsin — a good chunk of the corn belt — are also rapidly falling into drought.

U.S. Drought Monitor for the Midwest
U.S. Drought Monitor for the Midwest
USDA/UNL

Here’s more detail from this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor on the Midwest:

Midwest Drought Summary

Temperatures were cooler than normal in the southern extent of the region and well above normal in the north. Departures were 9-12 degrees above normal in Minnesota and Wisconsin while they were 3 degrees below normal in southern Missouri and Illinois. Outside of western Kentucky, southern Illinois, southern Indiana and into northern Ohio, the rest of the region was drier than normal for the week, with very little rain at all in the upper Midwest. With the short term being quite dry and warm, drought expanded and intensified in much of the region this week. Moderate drought and abnormally dry conditions expanded in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa, where almost the entire region of each state saw degradation. 

Searching for rain

Scanning the forecast maps for widespread, meaningful rain has been a futile search lately. Most forecast models crank out less than an inch of rain for most of Minnesota in the next 10 days.

Here’s the European model:

European model (ECMWF) precipitation output
European model (ECMWF) precipitation output through 7 a.m. June 20
ECMWF via pivotal weather

NOAA’s GFS model is more hopeful for multi-inch rains in southwest Minnesota and a sliver of northern Minnesota over the next 10 days. But it’s the outlier at this point.

NOAA GFS precipitation output
NOAA GFS precipitation output through 7 am June 20
NOAA via pivotal weather

If current forecasts verify, next week’s U.S. Drought Monitor will plunge Minnesota and much of the Upper Midwest even deeper into drought.

Stay tuned.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.