The past two weeks are the first time in 2022 that any of Minnesota (4%) has been in extreme drought. In comparison and as you probably recall, drought in 2021 was the most severe in Minnesota since at least 1988, with more than half the state experiencing extreme drought and 8% experiencing exceptional drought. Below is a comparison of peak drought conditions in 2021 and 2022, illustrating the differences in intensity and timing of this multi-year drought.
Precipitation deficits and drought can persist over several years, and areas all Minnesotans should be mindful of water conservation now and on an ongoing basis. Water use restrictions would be more likely when demands and use were higher. By mid-October, both water use and temperatures typically have declined sharply from summer levels. Since the start of the year, precipitation deficits this year in southern Minnesota have accumulated to 6 to 10 inches below normal, most of which has occurred since July 1. From July 1 through early October, precipitation deficits of 3 to 7 inches are observed not only in southern Minnesota but also in central and northwestern portions of the state. This is in addition to 2021 deficits, which generally ranged from 3 to 6 inches in the northern half of the state and between 6 and 9 inches in the east central and southeastern portions of the state.
Precipitation deficits in fall and leading through the winter can often dictate drought conditions leading into the spring. That was the case for the 2021 drought, and it is possible that these deficits in late 2022 will persist into 2023.
During drought, water resources are particularly stressed, effecting ecosystems, groundwater, fish, and wildlife habitats.
While seasonal water use changes may temporarily reduce urgency and the need for more restrictive actions, the DNR encourages all Minnesotans to help conserve water. Adopting regular water conservation measures helps plan for drought and future water-use strategies in 2023.