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Despite Early Deluge, Drought Fears Persist

Despite Early Deluge, Drought Fears Persist Click to Enlarge Photo: Jupiterimages, Photos.com

Jul 12, 2012 at 8:38 am

ST. PAUL, MN (KNSI) – Though it seemed unlikely in May as rain fell in record amounts, a dry month of June brought fears of drought conditions back to the minds of farmers and climatologists in central Minnesota.

Compounding the potential problem, the first two weeks of July have brought a string of 90 degree days and less than an inch of rain on the heels of a drier than normal June. In the short term there is still a back-up source of moisture, what climatologists refer to as a "bank account" of water that is keeping the drought at bay.

"The landscape is actively transpiring and that is the 10 dollar word for plants drawing water through their roots, up to the leaf surface and out to the atmosphere," State Climatologist Greg Spoden said. "Fortunately our landscape is so far along and we're well ahead of average in terms of crop development, so we have a well-established root system...we are drawing water from the middle and even lower part of the soil profile."

The story however differs even within the boundaries of the state of Minnesota. The northeastern portion of the state could use an extended stretch of dry weather to continue the flood clean-up.

Even with that heavy rain fall, Spoden says this is the time of year where soil conditions can turn quickly, good or bad. Just as Duluth and the surrounding areas witnessed the concept of flash flooding first-hand, there is also an opposite phenomenon, flash drought.

"Here in the middle of the growing season if we get really warm and really dry things can change very rapidly," Spoden said. "Certainly not in 24 hours like a flash flood, but in 24 days we could drop into the drought conditions very quickly."

For the year, St. Cloud is still running nearly four inches above normal for precipitation, but rainfall has been more than two inches below average since the first of June.

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