DULUTH — While parts of Minnesota got a downpour from the remnants of Tropical Storm Cristobal earlier this week, many areas got hardly a drop. A growing drought is now developing across much of Minnesota.
The U.S. Drought Monitor this week declared an official “moderate drought" exists across much of St. Louis, northern Aitkin, Crow Wing, Cass and southern Itasca counties in the north and Stevens, Polk and Big Stone counties in the west.
A much larger swath of the state, from Cook County in the northeast to Yellow Medicine County in the southwest, is considered “abnormally dry.”
In Duluth, the National Weather Service reports rainfall for June is a full inch below normal and precipitation since Jan. 1 is down nearly 4.5 inches.
Brainerd is down ¾ of an inch in June, but some 4.7 inches below normal for the year to date. St. Cloud is 3.2 inches short for the year, while Fargo-Moorhead and Grand Forks, N.D., are both down about 2.5 inches since Jan. 1. The rest of Minnesota remains near or even above normal for precipitation.
Much of western North Dakota also remains abnormally dry or in drought.
If the dry spell continues it will mean not only brown lawns — unusual in northern Minnesota's often-soggy June — but also parched crops and forests, making the area more ripe for wildfires.
Much more severe drought now grips large areas of the west, including northern California and southern Oregon and large areas of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, where an intense wildfire season is expected.