Jun. 25—Drought conditions have spread to nearly 75 percent of Minnesota, including most of the Twin Cities, according to figures released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Although all of Ramsey County remains characterized as abnormally dry — the lowest level on the NOAA's five-stage drought scale — the other six metro counties are at least partially a step higher in the moderate drought stage, the NOAA's National Integrated Drought Information System reported.
The NIDIS says 74.8 percent of Minnesota is now in moderate or severe drought conditions, an increase over last week's estimate of 55.7 percent.
The heavy rain that fell across much of the state last weekend — including nearly three-quarters an inch in the Twin Cities — did little to offset the effects of the unusually dry spring we've seen this year.
The lack of precipitation has combined with record high temperatures through the first half of June to put most of Minnesota in moderate to very high fire danger, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Most counties north of the Twin Cities have some sort of burning restrictions in place.
The DNR reported last week that more than 1,350 wildland fires have burned about 34,000 acres in the state since March.
Soil moisture is inadequate in about 65 percent of Minnesota, putting stress on the state's corn and soybean crops, according to NOAA.
Drought conditions have also caused drops in the water levels of the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers. The St. Croix at Stillwater is near its lowest recorded level, which was set in 1988, NOAA said.
NOAA expects temperatures to trend below normal next week and average precipitation levels are expected. The National Weather Service forecasts a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms in the metro Saturday and Sunday.