Extremely Dry Conditions Grip Minnesota

Graph of May 15 - June 21 precipitation
Rainfall accumulated from May 15 through June 21, compared to previous record low, normal, and record high values, for Minnesota's five first-order climate stations.
Image credit: Minnesota State Climatology Office

A fast-hitting bout of record dryness during May and June 2023 allowed drought conditions to build back into Minnesota for the third straight year.

After a snowy winter with extreme wetness from November 2022 through mid-April 2023, the vast majority of Minnesota slid quickly into an extraordinary dry spell. With the exception of a significant heavy rainfall and flooding event in southern Minnesota in mid-May, and a few isolated downpours that affected less than 1% of the state at a time, most locations received less than half of their normal precipitation from the beginning of May through Wednesday June 21.

The period from May 15 through June 21 was record-dry at each of Minnesota's five "first-order" climate observing stations, three of which have 130 years of observation or more. This is a remarkable feat, indicating the breadth and the intensity of the sudden dryness. Of the five stations, only Rochester had over a half-inch of precipitation during that period, with a total of 0.51 inches, representing under 8% of normal rainfall. In the Twin Cities, only 0.27 inches fell, less than 5% of normal.

As of Thursday June 22, forecasts were calling for widespread heavy and soaking rains to develop across parts of central and northern Minnesota. Whether this precipitation unfolds as expected, or it fails to deliver, the early growing-season dry spell of 2023 will go down as an unusually acute "flash drought," and yet another remarkable flip from a seemingly opposite condition.


June 22, 2023


Back to top