Drizzle can't dull drought conditions in Minnesota

  • Article by: JIM ADAMS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 23, 2011 - 8:15 PM

Southern Minnesota still suffers, and Minneapolis urges residents to water trees, especially new ones.

Despite some drizzle over the weekend, much of southern Minnesota still is experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions, the National Weather Service said Sunday.

Concerned about parched conditions, Minneapolis officials have asked residents to water yard and boulevard trees, especially any planted this year. The Twin Cities area is in its eighth year of drought, which has put even healthy trees at risk of damage, city officials said.

About a quarter of the state -- south of a line from Redwood Falls to Zumbrota -- is short on rainfall as of the last report a week ago, National Weather Service meteorologist Tony Zaleski said Sunday. However, corn and soybean harvesting are ahead of the five-year averages, he noted.

Since May 1, the affected area, which extends into parts of southern Wisconsin and Iowa, has received from 5 to 7 inches less moisture than the typical 20 to 24 inches of rainfall.

Moderate to severe drought conditions also linger in parts of northeastern Minnesota, including the area where forest fires have been a problem this fall.

Zaleski said dry conditions have led to an almost statewide requirement for burning permits. No fires are permitted in six southern Minnesota counties: Renville, Brown, Watonwan, LeSueur, Waseca and Freeborn.

About 37 percent of Minnesota pasture and ranges have reported fair amounts of rain, 32 percent have had good amounts and 3 percent have had excellent rainfall, he said. But 28 percent of those areas report poor or very poor moisture conditions.

Minneapolis officials suggest watering trees if it rains less than one inch in a week. An effective way is to set a hose turned on to release just a slow stream of water by the tree's base for a few hours. Watering in the evening, when evaporation is at a minimum, is most effective.

Stressed, newly planted trees are especially vulnerable to winter kill, experts say. Drought makes trees more susceptible to disease, and insects are attracted to drought-stressed trees for laying their eggs.

Sunday brought a little relief from parched conditions in the metro area as light showers moved through. A few more showers are possible this week, the Weather Service said. Monday will be a dry but lovely day in the metro, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s. Clouds return Tuesday, with a 40 percent chance of rain in the metro area.

Jim Adams • 952-746-3283

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