Archived Story

Drought worsens across the region

Published 9:41am Friday, September 28, 2012

Just two years ago, September was so wet with floods that water was popping out of manhole covers. This September is the exact opposite.

Parts of southern Minnesota — especially to the west — went from being classified by the U.S. Drought Monitor as in a moderate drought to a being in a severe drought to being in an extreme drought.

Presently, northeast Freeborn County is in a moderate drought. Southwest and far southern Freeborn County is in an extreme drought, and everything in between is in a severe drought, the monitor shows.

Almost all of Faribault County is considered extreme drought, with just the northeast area — the Wells area — listed as severe drought.

The U.S. Drought Monitor has increasing intensities of abnormally dry, moderate drought, severe drought, extreme drought, exceptional drought. It releases updates every Thursday.

The drought monitor doesn’t use strict definitions, because it combines all kinds of figures to make determinations, but it does list impacts. Extreme drought’s impacts are: “Major crop/pasture losses; widespread water shortages or restrictions.”

A big chunk of Minnesota jumped up to extreme drought this past week. About 19 percent is now extreme, compared to just 4 percent last week.

There are now areas of northwestern Minnesota listed in extreme drought, too.

In the last week of August, no part of Minnesota was considered in an extreme drought, though states to the south — Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas — all had widespread extreme drought listed.

Things water-wise look better now for much of Illinois, Indiana and Missouri, but the Great Plains, Iowa and Arkansas remain in extreme drought. To the east, areas around Beloit, Wis., and Rockford, Ill., also are struggling with extreme drought.