Friday, August 7, 2009

Drought still effects Minnesota's lakes and streams

A dry summer and fall means water levels on Minnesota lakes and rivers are down. The flow on the Mississippi River near Little Falls Minnesota is about half of what it should be this time of year. (MPR Photo/Tim Post).

No doubt you've noticed that Minnesota is in the middle of a snow drought. With the exception of far northern Minnesota, much of the state is without snow. This precipitation-free winter is no help to the region's already parched soil. Minnesota suffered through a hot dry summer, and received little relief in the form of rain this fall. Weather watchers say come spring the region will be really dry.

Little Falls, Minn. — A flock of geese gathers on the frozen Mississippi River near downtown Little Falls. The river's coating of ice cracks and shifts as it's warmed by the December sun. This winter scene hides the fact that water levels on the Mississippi, and most of the other rivers and lakes in Minnesota, are down because of drought.

Upstream near a dam the signs of drought are easy to find. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources hydrologist Tim Crocker scrambles down a boulder-strewn riverbank and stands on rock that would normally be under water.

The rest of this (excellent) MPR report on the lingering drought can be found here.

DNR Graphic showing the Departure from Normal of Rainfall for the period April 1 to August 3. Note the 7-9" rainfall deficit for the Twin Cities metro area, with a 7" deficit near Alexandria. It's going to take more than a couple of thunderstorms to make up for this - although Fridays waves of heavy/severe storms certainly did put a dent in the drought!

For a thorough, exhaustive update on the drought of '09 compiled by the Minnesota Climatology Working Group click here.

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