Drought Relief? Minnesota Could See Wetter Weather Pattern Heading Into September
While much of Northern Minnesota has a long way to go to fully eliminate the drought conditions we've experienced so far this year, some desperately needed rain could be on the way to cut into that large precipitation deficit we face.
As of their most recent report (August 18), the US Drought Monitor has a large portion of Minnesota under an "extreme drought", which is the second-highest category on their scale. This includes a notable amount of the Minnesota Arrowhead, where fires continue to burn in the Superior National Forest and Boundary Waters.
A band in Northwestern Minnesota is in the highest "exceptional drought" category. Meanwhile, the Twin Ports area is in a "severe drought", which is in the middle of the drought scale, as seen below.
What does that translate to in terms of how much rain we need? NOAA's drought reduction/termination map shows that in order to end the drought, The Minnesota Arrowhead would need 13.17 inches of rain over the course of a month to end the drought. On a slightly more achievable note, the amount of rain we would need to "ameliorate" or reduce the severity of the drought, we would need 10 inches over a month.
Either of those rainfall amounts in the course of a month are quite unlikely (and would cause a whole different set of issues if it all came in a short period), but the Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service did share some hope that the region could see at least some desperately needed rainfall.
In that post, they broke down a pair of timelines for increased rainfall opportunities for a decent chunk of Minnesota.
The first timeline is over the next 7 days, where there are reasonably high chances of substantial rain being delivered via multiple rounds of rain events. The areas that could see the highest amounts of rain are largely in areas that aren't in as extreme of drought conditions relatively speaking, but much of the Minnesota Arrowhead, including the Twin Ports area are among the highest potential rainfall locations.
The current forecast shows our first round of rain chances Tuesday evening, followed by increasing rain chances through the day on Friday with opportunities for rain carrying through the weekend for the Twin Ports area. Here are the current chances for rain through August 30 for Duluth.
How much rain could we see over the next week? Weather models vary on the subject, but 1-2 inches now through Sunday night for the Twin Ports area seem to be in the median of what models say, with lower amounts around an inch to 1.5 inches possible on the Iron Range and through the Arrowhead.
The second rain timeline is heading into September, where NOAA's Climate Prediction Center anticipates a 33%-40% chance of above-normal precipitation for all of Minnesota and Wisconsin through Labor Day Weekend.
"Above normal" is a broad phrase, but it does offer some hope that we will see at least a couple weeks of better rain chances than we've seen through most of the summer across the region - and at this point, anything helps for a region that has seen such small amounts of rain so far this year.