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For first time since records started, parts of Minnesota are in 'exceptional' drought conditions

More than 40% of the state is experiencing extreme drought.

It's become a very bad drought in parts of Minnesota, with Thursday's update from the U.S. Drought Monitor showing a chunk of northwestern Minnesota experiencing unprecedented "exceptional" drought conditions. 

It's the first time in since drought level analysis began in 1999 that any part of Minnesota has been in exceptional drought, which is the worst level possible and can lead to "widespread crop and pasture losses, fire risk, and water shortages that result in water emergencies," according to NOAA


"Drought conditions continue to intensify across portions of central and northern MN. Latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows 42% of state in extreme or exceptional drought," says the NWS Twin Cities, also acknowledging "some improvement" due to recent rainfall in southern Minnesota. 

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Located in the heart of the exceptional drought is Beltrami County, where the sheriff's office has been asking people to stop calling 911 about low-flying planes that are working to fight wildfires near Bemidji. 

According to, July 2021 was the driest July in Beltrami County in the past 127 years, and 2021 marks the second-driest year to date in the county has had in the past 127 years. 

In nearby Polk County it's also the driest July in 127 years, but also the driest year to date since record keeping began in the 1890s.

WCCO-TV meteorologist Mike Augustyniak says the Twin Cities, which is in severe drought, would need to receive an average of about 10 inches of rain in the next month, or about 15 inches of rain in the next three months, to end the drought. 

There is no rain in the extended forecast from the National Weather Service, though Novak Weather says there is at least a chance of more heat and an active weather pattern returning to the region sometime next week. 

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