Recent rainfall helps to ease drought conditions in Minnesota

The drought continues to loosen its grip on the southern two-thirds of Minnesota as rain has returned to the forecast recently.

The newest U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday shows southern Minnesota improving compared to a week earlier.

The region is now in just “moderate drought” or listed as only “abnormally dry.”

But most all of northern Minnesota remains in extreme drought while a swath of northwestern Minnesota is still in “exceptional drought.”

Despite the ongoing conditions up north, some recent rains did help slow a major forest fire, allowing firefighters to finally make progress on containing it.

Late this week, the U.S. Forest Service put containment of the Greenwood fire at 54 percent, with total acreage at 26,797. The lightning-sparked fire has been burning near Isabella in Lake County since Aug. 15.

The drought eased considerably in southwestern Minnesota, where status was upgraded from “severe drought” in some areas in recent weeks to “moderate drought” or just “abnormally dry.”

But the relief is too late for many of the crops in southwest Minnesota. Little to no rain through much of the summer caused many crops to dry and shrivel.

Despite the improving conditions, significant rain will be needed in September and October to reach normal soil moisture levels. The short-term forecast offers little chance of substantial rainfall.

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