Drought update: Gray's Bay Dam closed on Lake Minnetonka

Drought deepening as rainfall scarcity persists

Lake Minnetonka water level
Lake Minnetonka water level
Minnehaha Creek Watershed District

It’s another sign of a deepening drought in Minnesota.

The Gray’s Bay Dam at the outlet of Lake Minnetonka has been closed this week as water levels continue to fall.

Here’s the latest data on Lake Minnetonka’s water level from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.

Lake Mtka is losing 7 times more water to evap. than to dam discharge. Dam discharge remains at 12cfs as the dam is attempting to balance flow into the creek with declining water levels on the lake. The dam will close when the lake falls below 928.60ft.

Lake Minnetonka is just one of many lakes and rivers across Minnesota falling rapidly this summer. I have many boater friends who are reporting low water levels. I can personally attest that Lake Minnetonka is falling steadily again this year.

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Persistent dryness since May

The trend of dryness that began in May across most of Minnesota has persisted into early July.

You can see on the map in the tweet below that much of Minnesota picked up less than half of the average precipitation during May and June. As little as 10 percent of the average fell in the northern Twin Cities area.

June was the third warmest and second driest on record at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The rainfall deficit there in June alone was 3.65 inches.

Record warmth
June climate summary
Twin Cities National Weather Service

More rain fell in the eastern and southern Twin Cities over the past two weeks, but the airport and much of the western Twin Cities have received little rainfall in July.

The cutoff for precipitation for this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor update is Tuesday morning. That means we’re likely to see the drought zone expanding and deepening again this week across Minnesota.

Stay tuned.