Drought causing problems across Minnesota

Gov. Tim Walz will get a firsthand look Thursday at drought conditions in northern Minnesota. 

The new drought monitor was released on Thursday, confirming the extreme drought category is drastically expanding in Minnesota and nearly 3/4 of the state is in now in at least a severe drought. 

The state is way behind normal rainfall totals and the lack of rain continues to impact communities, including in the Twin Cities metro. Many cities have imposed watering restrictions or bans and are encouraging residents to conserve water.  

The dry conditions are also causing low water levels in lakes across Minnesota. On Prior Lake, Knotty Oar Marina owner Joe Perron said the water is about a foot and a half lower than he has ever seen it and dropping, on average, about an inch every three days. 

The low water levels are not only making it difficult to use boat launches, but requiring boat owners to replace propellers every day.  

"The low water and the rocks that are coming about that usually wouldn’t be, I mean we obviously had low water in the past, but not this severe," Perron said. "Obviously we get rocks and problems, but now that it’s getting so low rocks are appearing that I guess maybe haven’t been hit before and people are going places that they think they know and all of a sudden they’re hitting rock and having problems."

Worsening drought conditions are even impacting tourist destinations along the North Shore. Gooseberry Falls State Park, 15 minutes north of Two Harbors, is much drier than usual. 

The massive falls, which normally attract more than 800,000 visitors a year, looks nothing like it normally does with a portion of it completely dried up. 

Gov. Walz will travel to Polk County in northwestern Minnesota on Thursday. He will be joined by Agriculture Commissioner Thom Peterson to talk with farmers about how they are being impacted by the drought, including the possibility of low yields this fall.