Water Resources of the United States

PROJECT ALERT NOTICE (MN) Drought conditions in Minnesota

Date: Mon, 19 Jul 2021 15:01:07 EDT

Summary: Drought conditions continue to worsen in Minnesota

Most of Minnesota is experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions as a result of below normal rainfall (10 to 75% of normal) through most of the state since spring. With respect to seasonal flows at gages:
-79% have flows less than the 25th percentile of seasonal flow
-54% have flows less than the 10th percentile
-36% have flows less than the 5th percentile
Several gages in northern Minnesota have recorded the lowest seasonal flows on record, although no gages have recorded the lowest flow in respective periods of record. Rain in the last week has eased conditions in parts of southern MN at least temporarily, but the northern two-thirds of the state are in severe or extreme drought conditions.

The state is convening a State Drought Task Force for the first time in about 10 years, in which the USGS and other Federal agencies participate. About 61 USGS streamgages in the state are used by State agencies for water appropriation permits, hydropower operation restrictions, or waste-water effluent permits. Of these 61 gages, 27 currently have streamflows lower than permits allow, resulting in varying restrictions. Much of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has been closed due to fires or fire danger.

USGS staff have been making confirmation low-flow discharge measurements at gages associated with water-use permits often at the request of the state, low-flow measurements to extend ratings, extending orifice lines, and moving non-contact stage sensors to low-flow pools.

Two media interviews (MinnPost and Minnesota Public Radio) have been made in consultation with Office of Communication.

Links to data cited
NWS percent of normal precipitation
Minnesota DNR Drought Monitor
USGS WaterWatch (select Minnesota as state)

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