The price of a dry January: Parts of Minnesota are in 'moderate drought'


Many of you won't be complaining, but Minnesota's bone-dry January weather is causing moderate drought in parts of the state.

The past two months have brought snow levels well below average, with the Pioneer Press reporting 5.4 inches falling in the Twin Cities in January, compared to the 7-inch average, while the 6 inches that fell in December is half the usual amount.

As a result, the vast majority of Minnesota is now considered "abnormally dry" by the U.S. Drought Monitor, while parts of the border with North Dakota, and an area of north central Minnesota, are currently in "moderate drought."

Blogging for the University of Minnesota, meteorologist Mark Seeley says the state is on course to have its driest January since 2008.

"Most observers reported a drier than normal month of January," he said. "In fact a number of locations reported less than half of normal precipitation.

"Only a few northern Minnesota locations reported near normal or above normal snowfall for the month. Those included: International Falls 19.6"; Ely 16.8"; Isabella 16.0", and Orr and Kabetogama 15.8"."

Also missing this winter has been the sun, with Seeley saying many Minnesotans only had 4 or 5 sunny days this month, while the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports that December was the cloudiest since measurements began in 1962.

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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.