Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum. Last May and this May could not have been more different in terms of weather and moisture. In May 2007 we had the driest month of May in the past 10 years and this May will be the wettest. We’ve received around 9 inches of precipitation with 6 of those coming in the form of snow! That’s more snow than we’ve received in the last 10 Mays combined. Needless to say the water level is as high as ever and there is no fire ban.
DNR QUESTION OF THE WEEK – May 27
Q: It was so dry in parts of Minnesota last year. How do we stand this spring in terms of moisture?
A: Last year at this time, large sections of north central and northeastern Minnesota were in the grip of an extreme drought. An exceptionally dry 2006 growing season and a snow-sparse 2007-2007 winter led to very low lake and stream levels and an explosive wildfire situation in northern Minnesota. During a two-week period in early to mid-May 2007, the Ham Lake Fire burned tens of thousands of acres near the Gunflint Trail. The early season dryness set the stage for a summer drought that would eventually impact most of the state of Minnesota.
The situation is dramatically different this year. Very wet late-summer and autumn weather in 2007, along with significant rain and snow in April 2008, has doused most drought concerns. Lake levels have rebounded, stream flows are at or above historical averages, and soil moisture is adequate to surplus. As is nearly always the case in the early spring, some wildfire potential is present, but nothing of the magnitude observed last year. Lingering drought impacts remain in sections of northwestern and west central Minnesota, but those impacts are not of great concern at this time.
– Greg Spoden, DNR climatologist, Division of Waters