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Despite wet spring, Minnesota enters drought for the third year in a row

The state climatology office calls this a "flash drought" that's mostly impacting the metro area, as opposed to the whole state.

MINNEAPOLIS — The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that, for the third year in a row, parts of Minnesota are in a drought. This kind of drought, though, is different than last year.

"We’re missing a lot of water," said Assistant State Climatologist Pete Boulay.

Boulay says the metro area is down 6.5 inches of rain since June 1 — and that's after a particularly wet spring. 

"This is called a 'flash drought,'" said Boulay. "The big difference is last year's drought covered the whole state. This drought is confined from basically St. Cloud on south, and the Twin Cities is right in the worst of it."

Boulay says that in just two weeks, the area jumped two categories on the Drought Monitor from abnormally dry to a severe drought and has stayed there now for just as long. 

The Drought Monitor also shows not every area is plagued by a lack of precipitation. 

"Many counties are missing out on those hit or miss showers and thunderstorms, and so you've got a patchwork of haves and have nots in the state," said Boulay.

Minnesota all but made up for the drought this same time last year, getting about 6 inches in August.

"There’s hope we can turn this around in a month," said Boulay. He says he's more concerned about anything with shallow roots that has been planted recently and whether it can survive. 

The water that remains deeper — some four feet or so — is area crops can still tap into as the dry, hot weather trend persists. 

"Droughts are part of Minnesota's climate," explained Boulay. "But what we've found is that over the last 20 years, our weather has been very variable, highly variable, from wet to dry."

Boulay says that it's hard to tell if that's a pattern that will continue or if Minnesota will return to normal. But even that definition, he says, is changing. 

What he does know is that the long-range forecast shows this weather pattern sticking around through even the State Fair. 

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