More than half of Minn. now experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions

The latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows more than half of the state of Minnesota is experiencing extremely dry conditions.

According to Thursday’s report, 54.33% of of the state has abnormally dry – or worse – drought conditions. Of that, 22.48% of the state has moderate drought conditions, while 4.37% is experiencing a severe drought.

Last week, the amount of Minnesota land experiencing dryness was 41.77%.

Meanwhile, parts of northern and western Wisconsin are also experiencing dryness, with 3.37% of the state reporting severe drought conditions. Another 11% has moderate drought conditions. Overall, just over 36% of the state has abnormally dry conditions.

At the start of September, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported less than 1% of Minnesota reported severe drought conditions, primarily in the metro area, with no severe drought conditions reported in Wisconsin.

RELATED: Latest report shows improvement of drought conditions in Minnesota, Wisconsin

Dry conditions are expected for the foreseeable future. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS meteorologist Matt Serwe says although light rain is expected over the next few days, there won’t be much accumulation, and chances of widespread rain are better on Tuesday and Wednesday in the region. CLICK HERE for the latest forecast from KSTP-TV.

Drought conditions across the metro region as of Sept. 29, 2022. Credit: Matt Serwe/KSTP

Dry conditions have persisted for the past two years. As previously reported, April 2022 marked the first time since September 2020 that no part of the state was listed as having “severe drought” conditions.

RELATED: Farmers feeling impact of drought conditions for the second year in a row despite recent rain

Members of the state legislature passed emergency funding to help farmers with recovery from last year’s drought.

RELATED: Walz signs agriculture bill with $18.4M in drought relief

Also on Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says due to drying vegetation in central and southern Minnesota, there is an increase in wildfire risk. The agency is asking anyone who uses heavy or agricultural equipment, as well as off-road vehicles, to be careful near dry vegetation since sparks and heat can cause fires to start.

According to the DNR, exhaust systems can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees while being used, and vehicles can also start fires by being parked over tall grass. The agency also says trailer chains shouldn’t drag on the road, since those can also create sparks.

The dry weather also put a hold on apple picking throughout the state, with the state’s Department of Agriculture adding apples may be smaller this year. As previously reported, at least one orchard delayed opening this fall due to the weather conditions.

In addition, the dry conditions could also be partly the reason for the lack of color during the fall this year. However, temperature and soil moisture also play a role in determining the color of a tree’s leaves. You can plan your fall color-viewing trip here. 

RELATED: Fall Color Finder: How colorful is Minnesota’s foliage?