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Minnesota In Chronic Drought Despite Rain 

    When I hear the word drought, I often think of California. Short showers, cacti instead of rose bushes, and watering the grass with bath water. But in reality, drought is a more universal phenomenon than many people expect.

    According to the US Drought Monitor’s August drought report, nearly 40% of the continental USA is experiencing drought conditions. These conditions are defined explicitly as a period of insufficient precipitation that triggers a water shortage. Drought can be short-term or long-term, and is classified by the North American Drought Monitor on a scale from D1, Moderate drought, to D4, Exceptional Drought. As of September 21st, data from the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) records that 28 states are currently experiencing drought conditions from Severe (D2) to Exceptional (D4) Drought. Among these states is Minnesota, parts of which are currently experiencing droughts that fit into all four drought classifications. 

    The NIDIS reports that 94.5% of the state of Minnesota is currently experiencing drought conditions, and the remaining 5.5 percent of land is either recovering from a recent drought or entering into a new one. In short, there is not a single county, city, or neighborhood in Minnesota that isn’t being affected by drought. 

    Climate change plays a large role in the extreme droughts that have been popping up all over the US. Do not be mistaken – droughts have always occurred, and have never followed a predictable pattern – this is not a result of global warming. But, the frequency, severity, and length of said droughts are. Just as the degree of warming has increased since 2000, so too has the scope and staying power of Exceptional (D4) droughts in the USA.

    Climate change also increases the severity of wet periods, like the uncharacteristically heavy rainfall that Minnesota has gotten over the last few days. The recent rain will likely cause a dip in the severity of droughts recorded on this week’s drought map. Unfortunately, that will probably be the full scope of the rain’s effect on drought. As we approach a winter which is predicted to be relatively dry, drought conditions will continue to change. For weekly updates, visit

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