Weather events a threat to farm, recreational activities that define Minnesota’s culture

Environment

Minnesota is known for extreme weather, but climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of unfavorable weather events. 

This June, Minnesota has felt like a convection oven, with record heat and low precipitation setting the stage for drought. Currently, 55.7% of the state is experiencing moderate drought conditions with 5.1% of prime farmland areas around the Iowa border in severe drought conditions. These classifications, set by the National Drought Mitigation Center, estimate that 3,886,136 Minnesotans are currently in drought areas. 

Lakes are lower, landscaping is stressed and gardeners and farmers have been keeping a close eye on the weather forecast for the crops. The end of June topsoil moisture supplies were rated at 72% short or very short by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). If this continues into an extreme drought, the costs will be extensive. Drought.gov estimates the average cost of a drought is more than $9.6 billion for each event— only hurricanes are more costly.

With the land so dry, a significant rain event can lead to the opposite problem—flooding. Dry ground doesn’t absorb moisture efficiently causing pools, floods, erosion and property, and crop damage.

The climate in Minnesota is changing faster over time. According to the DNR, the 21 years from 2000 to 2020 had almost two times as many mega-rain events as the 27 years spanning 1973 to 1999. These mega-rain events have been tracked since Minnesota statehood (May 11, 1858) and are defined by six inches of rain covering more than 1000 square miles and the core of the event measuring more than eight inches. It is expected that mega-rain events will continue and worsen as global temperatures increase due to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, threatening the farm economy and recreation that define so much of Minnesotan culture. 

Hopefully publishing this has the same effect as washing a car and Minnesota gets a gentle shower to break the dry trend.

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