Extreme drought conditions expand in Minnesota

The National Drought Monitor reported today reflects worsening conditions with nearly 50% of Minnesota experiencing an extreme drought.

The Drought Monitor classification has 5 categories with abnormally dry on the low end and exceptional as the most severe. (See classifications below.)

Reported impacts in Minnesota include dropping water levels on rivers, water restrictions, and the lack of grazing or hay available for livestock.

The public can sign up for drought updates from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The DNR’s weekly drought update is released each Monday and includes information about current drought status, fire danger and state burning restrictions. There is also a sample stream flows and lake levels report.

Subscribers also will receive State Drought Task Force meeting summaries and agendas. The DNR convened the task force in July, when Minnesota entered the Drought Warning Phase.

The national drought monitor is updated each Thursday to show the locations and intensity of drought. It is categorized by a set of drought intensity classifications:

D0 – Abnormally dry (not drought). Soil moisture is low, fire danger increases. All of Minnesota is at least abnormally dry.
D1 – Moderate drought. River and lake levels lower than normal. Ninety-nine percent of Minnesota is experiencing at least moderate drought, down from 100% the previous week.
D2 – Severe drought. Ground is hard, fire danger is high, river flows are low, well levels decrease. Seventy-eight percent of Minnesota is experiencing at least severe drought, up from 75 percent the previous week.
D3 – Extreme drought. Emergency haying and grazing authorizations begin, wildfires are widespread, surface waters are near record lows. Thirty-five percent of Minnesota is experiencing extreme drought, up from 22 percent the previous week.
D4 – Exceptional drought. Impacts of exceptional drought are very damaging. Minnesota has not experienced exceptional drought over the past 20 years. The drought of the 1930’s would have been classified as an exceptional drought.

As of Monday, August 9 current conditions, the Minnesota DNR says it would take at least five to eight inches of precipitation spread over the next month to significantly alleviate drought.