Parts of Minnesota still face severe drought; farmers hope large snowpack will help

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According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, about half the state is still under drought conditions, and the vast majority of the metro area is in a severe drought right now.

But with nearly 50 inches of snow on the ground by early January, farmers like Carver County’s Scott Hoese are cautiously optimistic heading into spring 2023.

“Am I concerned for next year? Yeah, but you never know about the next year,” said Hoese. “If I had a crystal ball, yeah, I could tell you I am not concerned, but you’re always concerned.”

Minnesota Department of Agriculture records show there are 68,000 farmers statewide. After another dry year, that’s 68,000 farmers holding their breath.

And not only does the drought affect people who make their living from farming; Minnesota’s ag industry is the fifth largest in the country, and it generates about $16.7 billion annually.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS meteorologist Matt Serwe said the drought has lingered for the past few years, with 2020 and 2021 being particularly challenging.

Serwe said the best scenario for farmers would be a slow melt this spring and not a quick runoff.

“And, all of a sudden we get severe weather, and we get heavy rain and 60-degree temperatures, and it all disappears right away,” Serwe said.

“That’s good for rivers and lakes because it will all run off into that, but bad for farmers because none of it will be absorbed into the ground.”

Find the latest drought monitor map here. Find more weather information here from Minnesota’s Weather Authority.