Where's the driest place in Minnesota?by Tim Post, Minnesota Public Radio
Much of Minnesota is dealing with another dry summer. Severe drought conditions cover a swath of the state from the North Shore down through the Twin Cities and into southwest Minnesota. One of the driest spots in the state is the central Minnesota community of Litchfield. Rainfall in the Meeker County town is almost eight inches behind normal for the year.
Collegeville, Minn. — Ask Fred Rau to describe the parched Litchfield area, and he's got a simple two-word answer.
"Basically brown," he says.
Rau runs his business, Stockmen's Greenhouse and Landscaping, a mile north of the town of 6,600 people. He's seeing a lot of dry, crispy lawns in Litchfield these days; and in the country, he says corn fields without irrigation would look more at home in the desert.
"It reminds me (of a plant I use) in my business, yucca. Where the corn is short and very spiny looking," Rau says.
Like many parts of the state, Litchfield just hasn't seen enough rain this year to keep farm fields and lawns healthy. Usually the town would have 17 inches of moisture by now.
"This is going to be a short one, let's put it that way," he says.
Weather watcher Glenn Young monitors the rain gauges at the local airport. He says rainfall in May and June was well short of average. When Young talks about the rain that did fall this month, he has to incorporate a lot of tiny fractions.
"Sometime's just 2/100ths is all. 6/100ths, and then 3/100ths and 1/100ths. And last week we had .38 (inches), that's been our heaviest rain of the month," Young says.
The shortage of rain has left city officials concerned about Litchfield's water supply. Mayor Vern Madson says supplies in the city's water towers are running low, so he's asking residents to sacrifice their lush lawns through a voluntary watering ban, for safety's sake.
"The idea is that if everyone could either not water or cut back, it'll help us build it up. In case you should have a disastrous fire or something, you don't want to be out of water," Madson says.
The mayor has lived in Litchfield his entire 75 years and says it's been a long time since he's seen the area turn so dry. Madson says hoping for rain isn't enough.
"I pray for rain. The corn, which was beautiful here a month and a half ago -- and to see it start to dry up -- it really hurts for the farmer, all the effort they put into it, and all they need is some rain," Madson says.
The forecast holds some hope for relief in the Litchfield area, but not much. On Wednesday there's a 30 percent chance of rain. It's possible that rain could develop again later this weekend.
- All Things Considered, 07/30/2007, 5:53 p.m.