Drought 2008 (updated November 13, 2008)
As of November 11, the U.S. Drought Monitor placed many Minnesota counties in the D0 - Abnormally Dry category or worse (see map at right). Portions of the state, most notably southeastern Minnesota, were placed in the D1 - Moderate Drought classification.
The dry conditions were the result of a lengthy stretch of dry weather that commenced in mid-June and extended through the growing season. For the period mid-June through mid-November, many southeastern Minnesota communities received less than eleven inches of rainfall. This represents a negative departure from normal of five to eight inches in these areas. When compared with the same twenty one-week time span in previous years, mid-June through mid-November rainfall ranked below the 5th percentile (one year in twenty) in some southeastern Minnesota communities (see maps below).
Fortunately, summer temperatures were close to historical average and days with temperatures in the 90 were relatively rare. This kept evaporative demand near seasonal norms and mitigated the situation.
Previous week's weather:
The weekly rainfall map for November 4 through November 10 showed that precipitation totals were quite substantial in many areas. The heavy rains led the U.S. Drought Monitor authors to remove some sections of central Minnesota from drought designation. The authors also upgraded portions of north central and northeastern Minnesota from the "D1 - Moderate Drought" category to the "D0 - Abnormally Dry" category. Temperatures for the week were quite warm, averaging ten or more degrees above seasonal norms.
- Agriculture - The Agricultural Statistics Service reported that as of November 7, topsoil moisture across 6 percent of Minnesota's landscape was "Short" or "Very Short". Of greater concern are soil moisture supplies deeper in the soil profile, especially in south central and southeastern Minnesota. Subsoil moisture measurements taken at the University of Minnesota - Southern Outreach and Research Center in Waseca were below the long-term average in early November.
- Stream flow - Mid-November stream discharge in Minnesota rivers and streams was highly variable across the state. Some Minnesota streams reported flows that ranked below the 25th percentile in the historical distribution for the middle of November. By contrast, the Red River and many of its tributaries reported very high flows in response to heavy rains that fell in the late summer and autumn.
- Wildfire Danger - The Department of Natural Resources - Division of Forestry classified early-November wildfire danger as Low throughout Minnesota.