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Drought Expands

Drought Expands:

A few areas of northwestern and southeastern Minnesota benefitted from significant rainfall earlier this week in the form of strong thunderstorms. Some climate stations reported from 1 to 2 inches of rainfall. Ottertail reported a record 1.76 inches on July 17th, while portions of Kittson County (extreme northwestern corner of MN) reported 1.5 to 3 inches on July 20th. But these amounts were exceptional for the week. Most places in the state reported less than 1 inch, and some areas less than a half inch of rainfall for the week.

The widespread sparse rainfall around the state combined with the warmer than normal temperatures brought more stress to crops and expanded the drought area within the state of Minnesota. The July 18th crop reported showed a decline, with 68 percent of the state corn crop in good to excellent condition and only 62 percent of the state soybean crop in good to excellent condition. Two weeks ago these numbers were between 80 and 90 percent.

According to the US Drought Monitor update released on Thursday (July 21) this week, the area of at least Moderate Drought expanded in Minnesota this week to include portions of 14 counties, centered around the Twin Cities Metro Area. Of further notice was the fact that portions of Ramsey, Hennepin, Dakota, Scott, Carver, and Sibley County were place in the Severe Drought Category.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

The Minnesota State Climatology Office web site features a story about the July 23, 1987 super storm that devastated the Twin Cities Metro Area with record amounts of rainfall. The MSP airport reported nearly 10 inches of rainfall over about a 6 hour period. An observer in Bloomington reported 12.75 inches of rain. Thousands of basements flooded and many roads and highways were closed for a time. There ae many other details of this storm described to mark the 35th anniversary.

The BBC reported this week on the Heat Wave and Wildfires affecting Western Europe this week. Record temperatures were set in many countries ranging from 104°F in the United Kingdom to 111°F in Portugal. The wildfires and record temperatures reached as far east as Italy and Greece.

The Weather Underground reported on the summer Heat Wave in Texas and Oklahoma this summer. Many new record daily high temperatures have been set already and the forecast is for a hot month of August as well. If this pattern persists Texas could record the hottest summer in history.

MPR listener question:

This Friday, July 22nd, marks the 50th anniversary of the worst flash food ever experienced in central Minnesota. Can you please comment and describe some of the impact of this flood?


Yes, I remember former Minnesota State Climatologist Earl Kuehnast calling this the “Grand Daddy” of all flash floods. It was arguably surpassed by the flash flood of August 19-20, 2007 in southeastern Minnesota that almost washed away the town of Rushford. But the July 22, 1972 flood is a life-long traumatic memory for many citizens of central Minnesota.

This flash flood affected primarily the counties of Todd, Morrison, Cass, Crow Wing, Mille Lacs, Aitkin, Isanti, and Kanabec. Most of the rainfall occurred over the period from late afternoon on July 21 to early morning of July 22. Many climate stations reported total rainfalls ranging from 5 to nearly 12 inches. Every major highway from Alexandria east to the Wisconsin border was closed for a period ranging from 3 to 16 days. The estimation of total damages related to this flood amount to about $142 million in today’s dollars. Some farm fields were totally washed away by this storm.

To its’ credit the National Weather Service forecast a chance for thunderstorms and heavy rains that day, but this predates the issuance of a Quantified Precipitation Forecast (QPF) that is used today to estimate the amount of rainfall expected.

Twin Cities Almanac for July 22nd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 84 degrees F (plus or minus 7 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 65 degrees F (plus or minus 6 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for July 22nd:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 105 degrees F in 1934; lowest daily maximum temperature of 64 degrees F in 1992; lowest daily minimum temperature of 49 degrees F in 1947; highest daily minimum temperature of 77 degrees F in 1984; record precipitation of 2.69 inches in 1997. No snow has been reported on this date.

Average dew point for July 22nd is 61°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 80°F in 1999; and the minimum dew point on this date is 40 degrees F in 1925.

All-time state records for July 22nd

The state record high temperature for this date is 111 degrees F at Beardsley (Big Stone County) in 1934. The state record low temperature for this date is 31 degrees F at Meadowland (St Louis County) in 1985. The state record precipitation for this date is 1084 inches at Fort Ripley (Crow Wing County) in 1972. No measurable snowfall has occurred on this date.

Past Weather Features:

July 22, 1934 was the hottest in state history, with over 35 climate stations reported afternoon temperatures of 100°F or greater. The overnight low at Albert Lea was a very uncomfortable 84°F, and many people slept outside.

Northern Minnesota citizens awoke to a nippy, even frosty morning on July 15, 1985. Morning low temperatures were in the 30s F in portions of Carlton, Pine, St Louis, Beltrami, Cass, and Koochiching Counties, with actual frosts at Remer, Tower, and Meadowland.


Warm with a chance for scattered showers and thunderstorms on Saturday and Saturday night, even carrying over into early Sunday up north. Sunday through Thursday will bring a downturn in temperatures to below normal values. There will also be chances for showers and thunderstorms on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

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