Breaking News
More () »

Worsening drought now doing a number on lake levels, fall leaf color

The latest drought monitor shows nearly 50% of Minnesota is an extreme and exceptional drought.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — The persistent drought conditions across Minnesota have caused problems for farmers and led to water restrictions in many metro cities. 

There are two more noticeable impacts lately -- low lake levels and falling leaves. 

On Lake Minnetonka's West Arm Bay, homeowners say water levels are down a foot-and-a-half. It's down even more in other places if you ask Long Lake Fire Chief James Van Eyll. 

"Not this low, no. I've never seen lake levels this low before," Van Eyll said.

The levels over on Browns Bay are so low the fire department extended its dock another 32 feet to safely be able use its rescue boat.

Property owners should do that too, but it may be too late at Black Lake Bay where the only thing left in some places is mud.

"They could do damage to their boat, do damage to their motor, they could not get their boat off their lifts really," said Chief Van Eyll. 

A large barge company can certainly help, but the chief says they're booked up to six weeks out as the drought does a number on more people. 

And now on our trees, too.

The Department of Natural Resources says trees are dropping leaves earlier to try and retain moisture.

"It doesn't mean these trees are going to die, it means they're trying to conserve energy," says the DNR's Forest Health Program Coordinator Val Cervenka.

It also means your favorite leaf-peeping areas may not be as vibrant this year. But Cervenka says prairie grasses and state forests can provide other colorful options.

"There will be color, but we don't know when the peak will be at this point and just be prepared to be surprised by a pocket of extra color this year," said Cervenka. 

If you're set on seeing some colorful leaves, the DNR suggests heading to southeastern Minnesota -- an area that has picked up more moisture than other parts of the state.

The usual peak fall color season in our area is about mid-October.

Before You Leave, Check This Out