Drought conditions easing across the Northland
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April has definitely been a wet month for the region. So far, Duluth received 19.2 inches of snow, which is 12 inches above normal for the month. The wetter month bring some benefits. It wasn’t too long ago that the area was in desperate need of moisture.
The National Drought Monitor issued on Thurday, April 21 reflects a vast improvement over conditions last summer and fall, when nearly 50% of Minnesota experiencing an extreme drought.
Looking at the current drought conditions in the Northland, it’s exciting to see just how blank the map is. As of Thursday, there is an area under monderate drought (tan area) for northern parts of Cook County. There is also an area of moderate drought for southern portions of Wisconsin, and a sliver along the southern Minnesota border into Iowa and the Dakotas.
Overall, widespread conditions in North Dakota and Northern Minnesota have seen fantastic improvement. In August, much of the region were under thee dark reds of extreme to exceptional drought. At that time, the Minnesota DNR said we needed at least five to eight inches of precipitation spread over the next month to significantly alleviate drought.
The Drought Monitor classification has 5 categories with abnormally dry on the low end and exceptional as the most severe. The concern in Minnesota was dropping water levels on rivers, water restrictions, and the lack of grazing or hay available for livestock.
The region has seen a steady improvement over the last five months. Conditions improved in November when we got rid of a lot of the extreme drought, but there were still some areas in Lake and Cook County that were under severe drought. With additional snowfall in the Northland conditions gradually improved, until our web April nearly brought us out of concern.
As we head through the rest of the forecast period, the concerns turns from drought conditions to possible flooding. With a fast warm-up for our temperatures this weekend and additional rain and snow in the forecast, the snowmelt could lead to flooding.
By the time this next map will come out on Thursday, it’s very possible that we will be done with any drought or abnormally dry conditions in the Northland.