Most of Crow Wing County, Aitkin County and the southern half of Cass County were listed Thursday in a moderate drought and Morrison County was listed in severe drought, an improvement from a year ago when most of the area was listed in extreme drought conditions.
Even normal precipitation would be nice, but wed have to get better than that to erase our deficits, said Pete Boulay, assistant state climatologist with the DNR. Every week that goes by that we dont get precipitation we lose an inch. Were missing out on that so the deficit keeps building.
The culprits, Boulay said, have been an uncooperative jet stream that usually brings sustained, saturating rains in the summer months and thunderstorms that develop during night hours. He said the theme the past two years with storms is that they either dissipate quickly or fall over isolated areas.
What we have to have happen is a weather pattern shift, get more weather systems to skirt across the entire state so we at least have a fighting chance, Boulay said. The kind of storms weve had have been spotty.
Dryness has been entrenched across the southern two-thirds of Minnesota for much of May, June and July, the DNR reported. Rainfall for the eight-week period from June 5 through July 30 totaled less than 3 inches over much of the southern two-thirds of Minnesota, including Crow Wing County.
The lack of precipitation, along with very high evaporation rates, has led to deteriorating crop conditions, lower stream flows and lake levels, and increased wildfire danger.
The fire danger in the Brainerd area the past week has been between high and very high, the DNR reported. The Brainerd office of the DNR continues to issue burning permits only if theres an economic hardship. Permits for general burning, such as for leaves or other debris, will not be issued.
In the Brainerd district of the DNR this year there have been 90 wildfires that have burned 119 acres, damaged one residence, damaged one outbuilding and destroyed four outbuildings.
Boulay said theres no way of knowing how long the drought conditions will last. He pointed to a drought in 1976, which was followed by one of the wettest years on record in 1977. And the 1988 drought was followed by several years of wet weather in the 1990s and early 2000s.
We were past due for dry years, Boulay said. Its like a slow motion disaster, watching it unfold. It takes time. Sometimes it can end quick and sometimes it only tapers off.
On the positive side, Boulay points to the fact that this past July wasnt as hot as July 2006. Also, he points to the this weekends forecast, which lists multiple chances for rainfall.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.