MINNEAPOLIS - The drought is officially over for nearly all of Minnesota.
The new map issued by the U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday shows that only about 10 percent of Minnesota remains in drought, the state's best showing since last September. From late January until just seven weeks ago, 96 percent of the state was in a moderate to severe drought.
The shrinking remaining pockets of drought include part of the North Shore, some of northwestern Minnesota along the Canadian border and part of south-central Minnesota.
Greg Spoden of the Minnesota Climatology Working Group said the data show the drought has broken. He said the recent heavy rain has recharged dry soils, which will be good for agriculture. But because the soil has captured nearly all that precipitation, he said, it will still take some time for some larger lakes to rise to normal levels.
"The soil claimed first mortgage on that rainfall and the larger bodies of water will be slower to respond," he said.
The Drought Monitor still rates about 87 percent of Minnesota as abnormally dry because of such lingering impacts, and Spoden said the state needs continued above-average precipitation to fully catch up.
The National Weather Service is projecting below-normal rainfall for most of Minnesota over the next six to 10 days but above-normal precipitation for most of the state for the next eight to 14 days. He said that will cut a break for farmers doing fieldwork — and everyone else.
"Everybody deserves a nice weekend for once," Spoden said. "We've had lots of rainy days on our spring weekends so far. It should be a really nice Mother's Day and fishing opener, so all is well."
U.S. Drought Monitor: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/monitor.html
Minnesota Climatology Working Group: http://climate.umn.edu/doc/journal/drought_2012.htm