Sunshine returns across the state Thursday after a day of stormy weather in southern Minnesota. Unfortunately, a forecast return to hot and dry conditions will intensify the already worsening drought, and air quality issues remain.
A new United States Drought Monitor report came out Thursday morning, and it continues to be dire news for Minnesota. These reports always compile data through Tuesday morning, and come out on Thursday, so this does not include the rain southern Minnesota saw with the storms Wednesday.
However, the new drought monitor does capture the soaking rain from last Tuesday, and even that did not help. It is similarly unlikely that Wednesday’s rain will bring much or any improvements, especially with more hot and dry weather returning.
Just from last week, the portion of Minnesota in moderate or greater drought has increased from 93 to 98 percent. Areas in severe or greater jumped from 40 to 52 percent, and we went from none of Minnesota in extreme drought to 4 percent.
Behind the cold front that brought storms to southern Minnesota Wednesday (and tornadoes to Iowa), morning temperatures were slightly cooler Thursday.
Most of northern Minnesota started Thursday in the 40s, and the rest of the state was in the 50s with a couple 60s south.
High pressure is already moving in, and the associated light winds and stable conditions made for a foggy start, especially in central and southern Minnesota.
Smoke from the fires in Canada is also still a concern, especially in northern Minnesota and along the North Dakota border, where an air quality alert is in effect. Most of the state can expect to see a hazy Thursday under otherwise mostly sunny skies.
The widespread sunshine helps highs make it into the 80s, which will be noticeably warmer than the 70s most of southern Minnesota saw yesterday under the clouds and rain.
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The drier weather that begins Thursday is the beginning of another persistent pattern of dry and hotter weather.
Temperatures continue to rise through the weekend, with most of Minnesota in the 90s by Sunday or Monday. Here is the forecast for the Twin Cities:
Parts of western and northern Minnesota could even see a couple 90s Friday or Saturday.
The heat settles in next week, with most of the state in the upper 80s and 90s, and occasional 100s possible, especially west. It looks like the hotter pattern is likely to persist much of the remainder of July.
There are also no major rain chances currently forecast the rest of this week or next week.
The combination of dry weather plus heat that dries out vegetation even faster will continue to accelerate the deepening of drought conditions across Minnesota.
You can hear my live weather updates on Minnesota Public Radio at 7:49 a.m. Monday through Friday morning.