Moderate drought persists in Minnesota

CHANHASSEN – Despite above average snowfall this winter, a moderate drought condition exists in most of south central and southwest Minnesota, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday by the National Weather Service (NWS).

Frost depths across the region are deeper than usual at this point in the season, but it remains to be seen how this will impact runoff rates, according to the NWS 2014 Spring Hydrologic Outlook.

An extended melting period will allow melt water to slowly work its way into the soil and aid thawing. Meteorological models indicate there is little chance of a rapid and significant warm-up within the next few weeks, according to the NWS.

The Cottonwood River at New Ulm was measured at 2.57 feet at 2 p.m., Thursday, nearly an inch higher than it was measured at 1 p.m. Thursday, according to the NWS. Flood stage is 11 feet.

The Minnesota River at Mankato was measured at 2.57 feet, down slightly from Tuesday’s level of 2.89 feet. Flood stage is 22 feet.

Below normal Minnesota temperature probability is 33 to 50 percent likely through Saturday, March 22, according to the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC). Precipitation was forecast to be normal for that period.

Below normal temperatures are forecast for Minnesota, Wisconsin, northern Iowa, eastern and central North and South Dakota for March, April and May, 2014, according to the CPC.

There is a 50 percent or greater chance of a moderate, long-range flood risk in parts of the Red River Valley and in parts of the Rochester area, according to the NWS.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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