Rain over the past week has made drought conditions in Minnesota less dire, if only slightly.
While the week's rain was widespread across Minnesota and came at a good time — when cooler temperatures meant less evaporation — "we're still in a major drought," said Kenny Blumenfeld, senior climatologist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources State Climatology Office.
An updated map from the U.S. drought monitor, released Thursday, shows areas of exceptional drought in southeast Minnesota and around Aitkin, Carlton and Pine counties, south and west of Duluth, have disappeared since last Thursday. Areas of extreme and severe drought have contracted somewhat.
As for how much more rain Minnesota would need to pull out of the drought, Blumenfeld said it's complicated, and much depends on timing because of things like evaporation and whether or not the rain soaks into the ground.
"It takes a long time to get into drought, and it takes a long time to get out of it," he said. "I think we have to look down the road and hope for slightly above normal precipitation on a regular basis for a prolonged period."
For October, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center forecasts equal chances of above and below normal precipitation in Minnesota, Blumenfeld said.
The Climate Prediction Center's drought outlook forecasts persistent drought through the end of the year across northern Minnesota, except in part of the Arrowhead. The forecast predicts a likely end to drought in only a small part of Minnesota, and lessened, though lingering, drought conditions for the rest of the state.
If the rest of the year remains dry, next spring will be more dire than this spring was, a bad scenario for farmers, Blumenfeld said.
"We would really be dependent on a wet early growing season to help us out, and that's a lot of pressure to put on one season," he said.