All the sloshing on soggy ground could give Minnesotans more than just wet feet.
The Twin Cities likely will end the year as the wettest on record. As for the rest of the state, it’s all pretty wet, too.
For those who look at the glass half full, it meant fewer days when lawns and gardens had to be watered. But it also meant wet basements, outdoor weddings that were forced indoors and farmers who had to delay planting and harvesting.
“That’s not one of the goals I had in life — to farm in the year when we break the record for rain,” said Tim Velde who farms 800 acres between Hanley Falls and Granite Falls in the Minnesota River valley.
In the Twin Cities, a snowy winter followed by rain and more rain has added up to 38.87 inches of water as of Monday, busting the previous record of 38.10 inches set during the same period in 2002, said Chris O’Brien, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
“We’ll likely break the annual record,” he said. “We would be really surprised if we didn’t.”
The Twin Cities needs a little less than 1½ inches in the next couple months to knock the 40.32 inches set in 2016 into second place.
For those wondering when the rain will stop, the folks tweeting for NWS Twin Cities had an answer: when it starts snowing. And that could be as early as next week when colder-than-normal temperatures may drop wet snow on the Twin Cities.
Minnesota, as a whole, likely will rack up one of the wettest years since 1895 but state climatologist Pete Boulay said it’s too early to say exactly how wet.
By the end of September, Minnesota averaged 27.5 inches of rain, up from the 30-year norm of 23.04 inches but shy of the record 28.58 inches that fell in 1986 during that same period, he said. A “pretty wet” October is adding to ground that’s saturated and rivers that are swollen.
That has kept some people in knee-high rainboots since the spring snowstorms melted.
For farmers like Velde, it has made for a trying year — from planting to harvest.
“You get one chance to plant every year and you want to do it right,” he said. “It kept getting later and later. … A lot of it wasn’t planted in ideal conditions. But if you were going to get something in the ground, you had to plant when you could.”
By July, wet conditions forced him to leave 160 acres unplanted. “It’s a piece of ground I’ve farmed since ’72 or ’73,” he said. “This is the first time I haven’t been able to farm it.”
And yet, Velde would rather have a wet year than a drought. “In a drought, you can get in the field but then you grow absolutely nothing,” he said. As for this year, “what didn’t drown out is a good crop.”
Now he just has to get it out of the ground. He has harvested about three-quarters of his soybeans but hasn’t yet started on the corn. It has been a challenge.
“Seems like we get two or three days where it’s fit to be in the field and then you get an extended period of wet weather,” Velde said.
“When you can go, you practically go around the clock,” Velde said. “The tractors sink in the mud, you get stuck and you struggle to get out,” he said. “It’s hard on the equipment and the nerves.”
This year has been like no other he’s experienced.
After 3 inches fell earlier this week, Velde is again waiting for his fields to dry. He works on his equipment then stares out the window at his fields.
All he can do is hope and head to the local coffee shop to commiserate with his fellow farmers: “We’re all in the same situation.”
“You’re wondering, worrying and waiting, and there’s nothing you can do,” he said. “Worrying and wondering doesn’t change anything.”