Minnesota gets much-needed rain — but needs more to break drought

A car drives through heavy rain
A car drives through standing water on Seventh Street in downtown St. Paul during heavy rain on Sunday.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

Farmers and gardeners were among those rejoicing as a wide swath of Minnesota saw much-needed rain on Sunday.

But meteorologists say the state will need to see more rounds of steady rain to climb out of its current rainfall deficit.

As of last week the entire state was classified as abnormally dry, with more than half in formal drought conditions. Some rivers, including the St. Croix River at Stillwater and the Minnesota River at Henderson, are near record-low water levels.

Lee Britt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Duluth, said that prior to Sunday, what rain fell across Minnesota in June had been hit-or-miss.

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"What we have seen is just, you know, spotty storms, and while storms do generate a lot of rainfall, it's just in such an isolated location it's not enough to really get a large-scale area out of the drought category," he said. "So what you need is widespread rainfall lasting for extended periods of time."

Britt said Sunday's rain will help ease drought conditions and fire danger, but he said it's not nearly enough to make up the deficit.

"In order for us to get out of the drought, we would need 3 to 6 inches of rainfall. So while this rainfall will help, it's not going to push us out of the drought we've seen," he said.

Going into Sunday the Twin Cities airport had received only four-tenths of an inch of rain in June — that's nearly 2 1/2 inches below normal.

St. Cloud, Duluth and Rochester as well as Sioux Falls, S.D., also were running more than 2 inches below normal rainfall for the month of June.