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Recent rain helps improve drought conditions in central, southern MN

Portions of northern Minnesota are still in an exceptional drought.

Recent rain in Minnesota has helped improve drought conditions for much of the state, though severe drought still persists. 

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows conditions in central and southern Minnesota have improved thanks to a string of rainy days last week.

Meanwhile, the worst of the drought continues in northern Minnesota — where wildfires continue to rage — albeit there have been some improvements in the northwest part of the state. 

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According to U.S. Drought Monitor:

  • 6.78% of the state is in exceptional drought (maroon on the map), down from 8.07% last week — this was the first year an exceptional drought has been recorded in Minnesota since tracking began in 1999.
  • 30.95% is in extreme drought (red on the map), down from 49.58%
  • 27.4% is in severe drought (orange on the map), down from 29.98%
  • 23.45 is in moderate drought (tan on the map), up from 8.95% last week
  • 8.04% is abnormally dry (yellow on the map), up from 2.27%
  • 3.38% of the state has no drought (white on the map), up from 1.15%

Here is this week's map (left) and last week's map (right) to compare how things have improved: 

The map on the left shows the drought in Minnesota as of Aug. 31. The map on the right shows the drought in Minnesota as of Aug. 24.

The map on the left shows the drought in Minnesota as of Aug. 31. The map on the right shows the drought in Minnesota as of Aug. 24.

The persistent drought conditions in 2021 (the year started out dry, and then after a wet March and April, things dried out for the summer) coincided with many areas of Minnesota experiencing their hottest summer on record based on average temperature. The Twin Cities, Duluth and Brainerd are among the areas to have their hottest-ever summer. 

Related [Aug. 11]: Here's what the drought means for fall colors in Minnesota this year

Related [Aug. 25]: With leaves already changing, DNR launches Fall Color Finder early

To close out summer (meteorological summer ended on Aug. 31), much of Minnesota saw much-needed rainfall, with many areas outside of northeastern Minnesota picking up at least 2 inches, while a large part of central and southern Minnesota picked up 3-6 inches of rain, according to the Minnesota DNR

In some areas of northern and northwestern Minnesota, which have been hit especially hard by dry conditions this year, the two-week wet period in late August helped increased annual precipitation totals by over 50%, while most areas saw a 15-30% boost in annual precipitation totals, the DNR said. 

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport picked up 6.89 inches of rain in the month of August, which is more rain than MSP saw the previous three months combined (from May-July, MSP had 6.18 inches of rain), the National Weather Service (NWS) said

And there's good news for parts of Minnesota to end the week: rain is in the forecast Thursday night, with heavy rain possible in western Minnesota, NWS says. However, after this bout of wet weather, things will be dry for several days. 

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