Drought expands in Minnesota; Saturday severe risk

Severe drought has emerged in and near the southern Twin Cities area.

Drought categories for the Twin Cities
Drought categories for the Twin Cities.
USDA/Twin Cities National Weather Service

Here we go again.

Much of the Twin Cities and central Minnesota are running two to five inches below average rainfall over the past 60 days.

The lack of rainfall and the 6th warmest 30-day period since at least 1873 have combined to rapidly expand drought areas around the Twin Cities.

Thursday’s U.S. Drought Monitor update shows that 28 percent of Minnesota is now abnormally dry or in drought. That’s up from just 11 percent last week.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.

U.S. Drought Monitor for Minnesota
U.S. Drought Monitor for Minnesota.

Severe drought has now emerged in the southern and eastern Twin Cities and on either side of the Minnesota River Valley toward Belle Plaine. Most of the western and northern Twin Cities areas are in the moderate drought category.

The yellow abnormally dry (pre-drought) region has expanded across much of central Minnesota.

Crops have been pretty resilient so far across parts of central and wetter northern Minnesota. But crops are showing signs of stress across the drier parts of southern Minnesota now.

Crop report
Crop conditions.
Twin Cities National Weather Service

Searching for rain

So who may get some much-needed rainfall over the next week? Rainfall coverage looks spotty. There is another slight chance for spotty storms in southern Minnesota overnight into Friday morning. But some areas may pick up an inch in thunderstorms Saturday.

Here’s the Twin Cities NWS assessment for rainfall potential in the next week.

Rainfall outlook
Rainfall outlook.
Twin Cities National Weather Service

Severe risk Saturday

Friday brings another hot mostly sunny day for Minnesota. Highs will reach 90 degrees again in much of southern and western Minnesota Friday afternoon.

If we make it to 90 at MSP Airport, it will be the 14th day this year we’ve hit 90 degrees.

A stronger wave Saturday will spark scattered thunderstorms. NOAA’s NAM model below shows scattered strong storms popping up between 1 p.m. Saturday and 1 a.m. Sunday.

NOAA NAM model
NOAA NAM model between 1 pm Saturday and 1 am Sunday.
NOAA via tropical tidbits

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center paints a slight risk for severe storms for much of central Minnesota including most of the Twin Cities. A higher enhanced risk covers the far southeast Twin Cities through southeast Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Severe weather risk areas
Severe weather risk areas.
Twin Cities National Weather Service

Keep an eye out for possible severe weather watches and warnings Saturday afternoon and evening.