A Dry Finish for 1999
The late autumn and early winter of 1999 brought unusually dry conditions to much of Minnesota. Many western counties received less than one inch of precipitation for October through December. These totals are more than three inches below normal in some locations.
Placing October through December precipitation in historical perspective, we see that the three-month totals fell in the 5th percentile (or less) in many western Minnesota locations. This means that in 100 years of climate record, all but five October through December totals were wetter than 1999. For those communities in the 1st percentile, October through December precipitation totals were near or below all-time record low values.
The dry late autumn and early winter exaggerated an already dry situation in the southwest. The Palmer Drought index indicates that southwestern Minnesota is experiencing a "moderate drought". Soil moisture is deficient throughout the rooting zone in southwestern Minnesota, and topsoil moisture is short across most of Minnesota. The soil profile and many surficial hydrologic systems will rely heavily on early spring rains for recharge.