Nearly all of Minnesota is in a drought as spring starts


As the first day of spring arrives on Friday, what Minnesota needs this season is some rain.

After winter proved unusually dry, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is now declaring 88 percent of the state is currently in "moderate drought," a huge leap from last week when it was just 6 percent.

The Twin Cities area is among the drought-stricken parts of the state, with the Pioneer Press pointing out only 27.2 inches of snow fell in the area during the cold-weather season – half the 30-year average.

There's been little rain as well, with only 0.13 inches of water on the ground in the metro area so far this month, well below the 1-inch average.

Compare this to a year ago.

Around 46 percent of Minnesota was considered "abnormally dry" at that time, with just over 18 percent considered to be in moderate drought.

This winter has been so mild, the Weather Channel even named Fargo as one of its top 5 cities with the best winters in the 2014-15 season.

The channel points out the city's snowfall was 2 feet below average, with an admittedly cold January being followed by a thaw in February, while the city enjoyed highs in the 70s seen last week.

Fire fears

The Associated Press says the dry winter is leading to rising concern about the number of fires that can be expected across Minnesota, as a lack of snow has left grass drier and more likely to burn.

WCCO reports there were three grass fires reported in the northern metro area this past weekend alone.

There is a chance of some snow or rainfall over the next five days in Minnesota, but according to MPR, any precipitation will be light.

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Drought over for most of Minnesota

Nearly the entire state was in a moderate to severe drought, but three months later that's down to about 10 percent. A climatologist told the Associated Press rain has recharged dry soils, but above-average precipitation needs to continue for Minnesota to fully catch up.