Much of Minnesota sees rain, but not enough to break drought

Published 7:57 pm Sunday, August 8, 2021

By Hannah Yang, Minnesota Public Radio News

Much of Minnesota saw rain this weekend — heavy in some places — but weather experts say it’s not enough to break through the drought that much of the state is experiencing.

The National Weather Service said there were several rounds of scattered showers and thunderstorms across central and southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin over the weekend, with rainfall totals ranging from as little as a tenth of an inch up toward Little Falls to as much as 4 to 5 inches near Eau Claire, Wis.

The Twin Cities averaged about half an inch to an inch, with some higher totals.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport saw more than an inch just on Sunday morning — more rain than it received during the entire month of July.

Some places along the Minnesota River valley also saw more than an inch — but most of northern Minnesota saw little if any rain.

Weather Service meteorologist Tom Hultquist said that while much of the state received rain, it wasn’t consistent or widespread enough to break through the statewide drought or to make up for the lack of rainfall.

“We’d need to see one or two of these a week somewhere in the state over the next several weeks to kind of make up for things everywhere,” Hultquist said. “As we get into the fall, larger-scale storm systems tend to provide big swaths of rain. So hopefully when we start to move into the fall, we’ll see some of those systems affect the region.”

Hultquist said fall is usually a time when soil recharges its moisture levels, so getting plenty of rain this autumn will be important to averting dry conditions that could extend through spring.

Last week’s U.S. Drought Monitor showed more than three-quarters of the state in severe or extreme drought. Many Minnesota farmers are in desperate need of rain as there are severe shortages of feed for cattle, and crops are drying up because of the drought.

Trees are also showing signs of color despite it being early August, due to dry conditions and the trees attempting to conserve water. Drought-stressed trees can also be more susceptible to insects and diseases, and also more risk of wildfires.

Heading into the coming week, some rain is possible early in the week before conditions turn dry again.

“On the larger scale, for the sort of rainfall deficits as we’ve been looking at over the last six-plus months, those won’t be completely overcome (by the weekend rain), so we would need more of this,” Hultquist said. “Unfortunately, it looks to actually dry out after Tuesday. … So, (it’s) certainly helpful, but we will still need more of it.”