The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 19, 2013

Severity of drought for south-central Minnesota lessens

MANKATO — Here’s a glass half-full perspective for everyone suffering through this spring of discontent: The drought situation has improved.

“It’s been a very active April for sure. I know people don’t like it, but it’s good as far as the drought,” said Pete Boulay, a climatologist with the State Climatology Office.

An update from the U.S. Drought Monitor this week showed the first major improvement in drought conditions since last fall, but the drought isn’t over.

About two-thirds of the lower part of Minnesota remains in a drought with the southwest still listed in “severe drought” and much of the Mankato region climbing into the “moderate drought” status. 

“There’s definitely some recharge in the soil, but that deeper soil needs moisture yet,” Boulay said.

Since the start of the year, the Mankato area is 2-4 inches above normal for precipitation. Southeastern Minnesota is 4-6 inches above normal, Boulay said.

And while the recent repeated heavy snowfalls have been cursed, Boulay said they have been more beneficial than heavy rains would have been.

“What’s really helped out for this drought is the snow; it melts into the ground instead of running off.”

The drought is easing its grip across much of the Corn Belt as soaking rains and snow have moved through Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri.

Farther south, however, many states remain in extreme drought.

While area farmers were planting corn at this time last year, no machinery will be moving into fields the rest of this month.

Farmers like to have corn in the ground by mid May as later planting reduces production.

The 10-day forecast for Mankato calls for high temperatures mostly in the low 50s with most days at least partly cloudy and ongoing chances of rain and or snow.

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