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Drought tightens grip on Minnesota as Twin Cities reaches 'extreme' level

By this time last year, drought was fading fast in Minnesota.

As winter nears, drought conditions are worsening in Minnesota, particularly in southern parts of the state. That includes a chunk of the west Twin Cities metro, where level 3 extreme drought is now in effect.

Most of Hennepin and Scott counties, all of Carver County, the southwest corner of Ramsey County and the northwest corner of Dakota County are experiencing extreme drought. And almost all of Sibley and Lyon counties in southwest Minnesota are in the red, too. 

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The worsening drought comes after the driest September on record in the Twin Cities. Just 0.23 inches of rain fell in September, and that came on the heels of 1.18 inches in July and 1.13 inches in June. Just over 4 inches of rain in August helped fight off the drought, but only temporarily. 

The Twin Cities has a precipitation deficit of 8.28 inches for the year. Saint Cloud, meanwhile, just 70 miles from downtown Minneapolis, has a rain surplus of 4 inches. 

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Drought encompassed nearly the entire state during the summer of 2021, whereas the 2022 drought is localized in pockets. In mid-August 2021, there was a chunk of northwestern Minnesota that reached level 4 exceptional drought, marking the first time anywhere in Minnesota since drought level analysis began in 1999. 

By early October 2021, however, much of that drought was gone thanks to heavy rains that arrived in late August. And nearly 2 inches of rain fell in September 2021 in the Twin Cities, compared to the 0.23 inches this September. 

Here's a helpful visual to see how drought has expanded from Sept. 6 (left) to Oct. 6 (right). 

Drought conditions in Minnesota on Sept. 6 (left) and Oct. 6 (right). 

Drought conditions in Minnesota on Sept. 6 (left) and Oct. 6 (right). 

There are no signs of meaningful rainfall in the extended forecast. 

BMTN Note: Weather events in isolation can't always be pinned on climate change, but the broader trend of increasingly severe weather and record-breaking extremes seen in Minnesota and across the globe can be attributed directly to the rapidly warming climate caused by human activity. The IPCC has warned that Earth is "firmly on track toward an unlivable world," and says greenhouse gas emissions must be halved by 2030 in order to limit warming to 1.5C, which would prevent the most catastrophic effects on humankind. You can read more here.

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