Northland drought improves, but remains moderate to exceptional

The latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor has noted improvements for much of the region, but drought conditions persist in the Northland ranging from moderate for the Arrowhead to exceptional in east central Minnesota.

The USDM is a joint effort by National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is updated on Thursday mornings with data from observations made at 7 a.m. CST on Tuesdays.

Drought intensity is measured in increments from D0 to D4:

  • D0 = Abnormally Dry
  • D1 = Moderate Drought
  • D2 = Severe Drought
  • D3 = Extreme Drought
  • D4 = Exceptional Drought

The Midwest Drought Summary for Thursday stated that heavy precipitation supported a 1-category improvement across northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. Given that the map reflects data from Tuesday to Tuesday, Duluth observed around 4.5″ of rain since the previous report.

Exceptional drought (D4) persists over an intersection of Carlton, Aitkin, and Pine Co. including Moose Lake. The area of exceptional drought that has reached across northern Douglas and Bayfield Co. the last several weeks has improved to extreme drought (D3).

Extreme drought remains widespread reaching northwest from Washburn County to South St. Louis County and extending east toward Brainerd and Walker.

Duluth has improved from extreme drought to severe drought (D2). These conditions fill out much of the rest of the Northland. The exception is the Arrowhead into Koochiching County where current conditions are moderate (D1).

Despite recent gains in precipitation, we need to maintain normal weekly precipitation to prevent falling back into deteriorating conditions. The current forecast doesn’t have much for widespread accumulating rain beyond Thursday night into Friday.