How Much Rain Does Minnesota Need to End the Drought?
To say that things have been dry in Minnesota this spring and summer is kind of an understatement because we need a LOT of rain to end our current drought.
Unless you've been watering it, if your lawn gets any direct sunlight (like our backyard does) it's probably been looking a little dry and brown lately. (And not just from the spots the dogs made, either.) Or maybe you've noticed that the water level is pretty low on area ponds, lakes, streams and lakes here in southeast Minnesota, as well.
So, yeah, it shouldn't have been a surprise that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) declared that the state is now in a drought warning phase-- something that doesn't happen very often, last occurring here in 2012.
The DNR explained more over the weekend:
Drought is defined as a period of abnormally dry and/or unusually hot weather sufficiently prolonged for the corresponding deficiency of water to cause a serious hydrologic imbalance. When that occurs, soil moisture reserves, groundwater supplies, lake levels and stream flows are negatively impacted. Water-dependent industries including agriculture, public utilities, forestry, and tourism are profoundly affected.
So, yeah, we could use some rain. At our house in northwest Rochester, we've only received about an inch and a half in the last month-- that's it. So just how much rain do we need to turn things around?
Well, the DNR has made some guesses on that, too, and, it's a lot-- at least compared to the little precipitation we've had so far this summer. They estimate Minnesota will need 3-5 inches of rain to fall over a period of about two weeks to "significantly" reduce drought levels. And, ideally, that rain would come from several different events, seeing the soil is better able to soak in that moisture by repeated rains, instead of one big downpour.
The forecast for southeast Minnesota doesn't have much hope for even one soaking rain, let alone several. So, unless you're really good a doing a rain dance, here are some other things the DNR suggests we do until Mother Nature makes it rain:
- Take active measures to reduce indoor and outdoor water use. Ideas include avoiding lawn watering, addressing any plumbing leaks, and running only full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher.
- Longer range options include investing in water-efficient appliances and installing drought-tolerant landscaping.