>50% of Minnesota in Severe Drought; Warm and Dry with wildfire smoke at times into early next week

Wildfire smoke leading to poor air quality, warm temps and a lack of rain are the main weather headlines in the Northland through early next week, as drought continues to worsen.

  • June 29th – the last time Duluth had a thunderstorm (over 2 weeks ago and counting)
  • July 6th – the last time the Duluth Airport picked up at least 0.25″ of rain, and before that June 20th.
  • Rainfall deficit of -4.43″ in Duluth since June 1; precipitation deficit of -5.18″ since January 1, 2021; -15.10″ below normal in precipitation since January 1, 2020.
  • 73% of days this summer have been warmer than average in Duluth compared to just 27% of days being below average.
  • 9 days so far this month with a high of at least 80 in Duluth (normal for July is 11 days) record is 25 days set July of 2012.
  • 2 days so far this month with a high of at least 90 in Duluth (normal for July is 1 day) record is 9 days set July of 1936.
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I’ve never been one to hype weather events, and I have never been one to have a bias toward a computer model that shows more rain or one that shows a lack of rain, I call it as I see it, and right now the pattern is stuck, little to no rain, warm temps, and this all leads to an ongoing drought which will only continue to get worse until we get locked into a wet pattern, and when I say locked in, I’m talking about a pattern that will persist for weeks if not longer. Days of significant rain, or several rain events in a week (amounts of at least a quarter or half an inch) that’s about the only way we’re going to break out of this worsening drought, and well I don’t see that type of pattern developing in our area anytime soon. The pattern we’re in now, and have been in for basically over a year now (a few changes mixed in) is not a good one in terms of getting frequent precipitation events, however, this pattern is good for those who enjoy being outdoors enjoying these warm temperatures while not getting rained on, one of those good/bad type of things I guess.

Here’s the latest drought monitor as of July 13, 2021

Minnesota

  • 3% of the state is in D3 or Extreme Drought (red) this is up from 0% last week.
  • 52% of the state is in D2 or Severe Drought (dark orange) this is up from 39% last week.
  • 98% of the state is in D1 or Moderate Drought (light orange) this is up from 92% last week.
  • 100% of the state is Abnormally Dry, this is unchanged from last week.

Wisconsin

  • 0.81% of the state is in D3 or Extreme Drought (red) this is unchanged from last week.
  • 3% of the state is in D2 or Severe Drought (dark orange) this is up from 2% last week.
  • 31% of the state is in D1 or Moderate Drought (light orange) this is down from 34% last week.
  • 58% of the state is Abnormally Dry (yellow) this is down from 63% last week.
  • 0.87% of the Midwest is in D3 or Extreme Drought (red) this is up from 0.20% last week.
  • 13% of the Midwest is in D2 or Severe Drought (dark orange) this is up from 12% last week.
  • 28% of the Midwest is in D1 or Moderate Drought (light orange) this is down from 30% last week.
  • 40% of the Midwest is Abnormally Dry (yellow) this is down from 45% last week.

North Dakota

  • 7% of the state is in D4 or Exceptional Drought (dark red) this is down from 11% last week.
  • 47% of the state is in D3 or Extreme Drought (red) this is down from 51% last week.
  • 91% of the state is in D2 or Severe Drought (dark orange) this is unchanged from last week.
  • 100% of the state is in D1 or Moderate Drought and is Abnormally Dry, both are unchanged from last week.

Here’s a look at the U.S. Drought Monitor Class Change from last week to this week. Areas in yellow have seen drought worsen over the last week, while areas in green saw some improvement in drought conditions.

No real surprise here given the severe lack of rain that soil moisture is only running between 1-5% across northern Minnesota into far northwest Wisconsin.

Drought is forecast to persist (brown) across pretty much all of Minnesota into extreme western Wisconsin through October 31, 2021 per outlook released by the Climate Prediction Center today.

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At least three large wildfires continue to burn (yellow) in southern Ontario province Canada, and smoke plumes off those fires (orange) continue to push south into the upper Midwest leading to smoky/hazy skies, and in some parts of the Northland the smoke has been reducing visibilities to as low as 2 to 7 miles.

Goes-16 visible satellite loop from Thursday, July 15, 2021.

An Air Quality Alert remains in effect across the northern half of Minnesota through 9 AM Friday, July 16, 2021.

Air Quality Index as of 5 PM Thursday, July 15, 2021.

We’re seeing other large wildfires burning in southern Oregon as noted by those pink colored areas which indicate hot spots/fires on satellite imagery from today, Thursday, July 15, 2021.

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500mb forecast valid from Sunday, July 18, 2021 through Thursday, July 22, 2021 — A feature which could lead to some cooler temps moving into the Northland next week will be an upper low/trough (outlined in black) digging S/SE out of Hudson Bay Canada, if that feature moves far enough west, that would help keep the ridge/hot temps farther off to our west, but should that upper low/trough move farther east, that would allow the ridge/hot temps to move over the Northland next week. Stay tuned.

Still have a shot at hitting 90 in Duluth Sunday or Monday (July 18-19), otherwise we’re looking at 80+ degree highs for the next 10 days, but some relief in the form of a cooler lake breeze is possible on a few days through next week.

Tim

1 Comment

  1. Ruth Henriquez says:

    I can see why you’re concerned about the drought. It’s bad news.

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