As 2011 ended and 2012 began many wondered just how much the drought of the prior several months would impact the coming months.
Most anxiety was not eased throughout the winter, as a lack of snowfall meant little moisture was available for the spring.
The good news was timely spring rains offered optimism for the growing season, and the crop looked very good as it popped out of the ground.
Intermittent rainfall during the summer led to the rain all but ending as July turned to August, and, as was the case in December 2011, the story heading into 2013 is all about drought.
In fact, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor Red-wood County is in what is classified as D-3 conditions, which means extreme drought because of the significant lack of moisture.
Data from the U of M’s Southwest Research and Outreach Center shows the lack of moisture in the region has been consistent, and the area since the end of September the final full week of December showed the area is significantly below the average.
According to Ross Carlyon, a meteorological technician with the National Weather Service in Chan-hassen, the forecast does not look very optimistic.
“The way things currently look we in Minnesota should probably be bracing for drought in the long-term,” said Carlyon.
Carlyon said the current national weather picture, with higher moisture levels on the east and west coast and very dry conditions in the middle hearken one back to the 1930s when similar conditions were present.
The current forecast does call for a wetter January.
Of course, added Carlyon, when January on average provides approximately one inch of moisture to the annual total a wetter first month of the year might not make a big difference to the drought picture.
In a recent report prepared by Mark Seeley, a climatologist with the U of M, the additional precipitation counties in the D-3 areas need somewhere in the six to 12 inch range just to get out of the drought.
With the ground now covered in snow in the area, the likelihood of moisture getting into the soil does not exist, which means the moisture that falls over the next couple of months might not make much of a difference if it all runs off as it melts later in the year.
“We still are trending dry and it looks that way through March,” he said.
The current exaggerated conditions are, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, rank at or below the lowest on record for the region with up to eight inches of moisture deficit in the last four months.. This is the equivalent, states the U.S. Drought Monitor, to missing nearly two months of growing season precipitation.
Page 2 of 2 - Carlyon said people need to be guarded in how they prepare for this coming spring, adding we all need to be crossing our fingers in hopes the upcoming spring relieves the drought.