Warm and dry winter heightens drought concerns

Published 5:54 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2024

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Year-round water conservation is beneficial

With less than half the average snowfall across much of the state and extraordinarily warm winter temperatures, drought conditions in Minnesota have persisted through the winter. Abnormally dry conditions exist throughout the state and about half of Minnesota is in moderate or severe drought.

Minnesota has experienced significant drought conditions each year since 2021. The 2021 drought was the most severe in Minnesota since at least 1988. Drought in 2023 was generally less severe, but some areas of the state experienced conditions comparable to or worse than 2021.

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“While climatologists don’t issue forecasts, we want everyone to recognize that, without substantial precipitation this spring, a continuation of widespread drought conditions in 2024 is likely,” State Climatologist Luigi Romolo said.

Sixty-five surface water appropriation permits remain suspended due to last year’s low streamflow conditions. These locations and other watersheds will be monitored closely to support decisions on suspending or reinstating surface water appropriation permits. Surface water appropriation suspensions are implemented when streamflows drop to a low level measurement called the Q90, which is a flow that is exceeded 90% of the time. Weekly streamflow reports typically resume the first week of April.

Recent drought events in Minnesota highlight the importance of year-round efficient water use and conservation. The DNR website(mndnr.gov/waters/watermgmt_section/appropriations/conservation.html) has information about what individuals, families, businesses and communities can do to conserve water.

More information about drought is available on the DNR drought webpage(mndnr.gov/climate/drought).