A much-needed wet period provided at least temporary relief from worsening drought conditions across much of Minnesota during late August of 2021.
Different weather systems affected different parts of the state at different times during a busy 1-2-week period, but the weather pattern clearly became as active as it had been all summer by the week of August 23rd, when scattered heavy rains in northwestern and northeastern Minnesota yielded to increasingly-widespread soaking rains on the 24th, 26th-27th, and again on August 28th.
Two-week rainfall totals through August 29th exceeded two inches over virtually all but northeastern Minnesota, with large swaths of southern, central, and northwestern parts of the state receiving 3-5 inches of rain during that time. The National Weather Service volunteer cooperative observer in Grand Meadow led the state with 10.15 inches of rain during the 2-week period. Over 35 other stations from all sections of the state (except the northeast) received over five inches of rain.
In some of the areas in northern and northwestern Minnesota hit especially hard by dry conditions during 2021, this wet period increased precipitation totals by over 50%. For instance, at Norris Camp in Lake of the Woods County, total precipitation for the year through August 14 had been 9.82 inches. The two-week precipitation total at Norris Camp was 5.30 inches, representing an increase of 54%. For most areas, the rainfall totals boosted annual precipitation totals by 15-30%.
Despite the widespread soaking rains, large long-term precipitation deficits persist across most of Minnesota. It remains to be seen whether this wet period marks a turning point in the drought, or instead was just a break from the dominating dry pattern.
Updated August 30, 2021