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Moderate Drought Emerging

Moderate Drought Emerging:

According to this week’s US Drought Monitor portions of nine east-central counties in Minnesota (mostly the Twin Cities Metro Area and extending southwest towards Mankato) are now designated to be in Moderate Drought. Many climate stations in this area of the state are reporting total precipitation for the year so far that is 3 to 5 inches less than normal. Some areas around St Peter, Chaska, and Mankato are more than 6 inches behind normal. Bear in mind too, that this follows a drier than normal year in Minnesota (2021).

Though the USDA Agricultural Statistics Service reports that over 80 percent of Minnesota crop production soils are still showing adequate to surplus stored soil moisture, Minnesota crop conditions have declined somewhat. With 66 percent of the state corn crop in good to excellent condition and 63 percent of the state soybean crop in good to excellent condition.

NOAA Climate Prediction Center outlooks continue to favor warmer than normal temperatures and less than normal rainfall through the remainder of July. It is likely the drought area will expand in Minnesota over this time period, but how much remains to be seen.

Rainfall has varied widely this month across the state, from under 1 inch in many areas, to over 4 inches in a few spots, mainly due to passing thunderstorms. Even though Thursday night thunderstorms dropped some heavier rains and even hail in portions of the Red River Valley, and 1 to 2 inches in southeastern Minnesota, most areas of the state missed out on any significant rains. This has been a persistent pattern across the state for a number of weeks. Watering yards and gardens may be more prevalent the remainder of this month.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

In this week’s AGU-EOS Bulletin there is a very interesting article about the potential impact of climate change on shipping routes through the Arctic’s International Waters. “Controversy over shipping routes in the Arctic Ocean is intensifying in light of recent climate science projections of sea ice melt. By midcentury, ice-free routes in international waters once covered by summer sea ice may appear for the first time in recent history, according to new research. A more accessible Arctic could influence the timing, sustainability, and legal status of international shipping.”

The BBC reported that the Met Office issued its first Extreme Heat Warning for portions of the UK as temperatures are expected to soar into the 90s F, and perhaps reach as high as 40°F (104°F) in places. Much of their infrastructure is not designed for temperatures that high, so health care providers and others are on alert.

The National Hurricane Center is reporting that Hurricane Darby in the Pacific Ocean is expected to weaken into a Tropical Storm before it passes to the south of Hawaii this weekend. At one time winds were over 90 mph.

MPR listener question:

Down here in Nicollet County we are now in a Moderate Drought thanks mostly to little rainfall in June and July. We are wondering how often have we seen Moderate Drought or worse in Nicollet County during the month of July? Thought you would know.


Historically Moderate Drought or worse prevails as a climate signal in Nicollet County about one year in five. There have been 27 cases of Moderate Drought or worse during July since 1895. Sometimes droughts appear in consecutive years. For example from 1929 to 1940 in Nicollet County at least Moderate Drought occurred in every July, except for 1935 and 1938. The last back-to-back Moderate Droughts in July for Nicollet County were 2006 and 2007

Twin Cities Almanac for July 15th:

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 66 degrees F (plus or minus 6 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for July 15th:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 102 degrees F in 1988; lowest daily maximum temperature of 63 degrees F in 1962; lowest daily minimum temperature of 49 degrees F in 1912; highest daily minimum temperature of 79 degrees F in 1988; record precipitation of 1.87 inches in 1907. No snow has been reported on this date.

Average dew point for July 15th is 62°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 77°F in 1988; and the minimum dew point on this date is 43 degrees F in 1920.

All-time state records for July 15th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 112 degrees F at Beardsley (Big Stone County) in 1931. The state record low temperature for this date is 30 degrees F at Alborn (St Louis County) in 1930. The state record precipitation for this date is 7.37 inches at New Ulm (Brown County) in 1916. No measurable snowfall has occurred on this date.

Past Weather Features:

This week in 1916 brought a serious of severe thunderstorms across southern Minnesota that delivered 3 to 6 inches of rainfall. Some crop fields were washed out around New Ulm where one observer reported nearly 8 inches of rain.

The warmest July 15th in state history was in 1931. Afternoon temperatures were 90°F or greater in just about every corner of the state, while in 13 counties temperatures of 100°F or greater were reported.

Campers awoke to a cool, even frosty morning, on July 15, 1973 when temperatures across northern Minnesota ranged from 32°F to 39°F. After starting out at 32°F at Tower, the afternoon temperature climbed to 67°F.


The weekend will start out with a chance for isolated showers and thunderstorms on Saturday, then a warming trend will begin on Sunday. Temperatures are expected to be warmer than normal for the balance of next week. It will also be mostly dry, with a slight chance for widely scattered showers and thunderstorms later on Monday and Tuesday.

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