July Severe Thunderstorms and Drought Update


From Dayton to Shoreview, Hennepin County residents experienced severe winds knocking over lawn furniture and bringing down branches and knocking out power. Winds reached just over 60 mph in northern Hennepin County. This is the second time in 2023 the National Weather Service has issued Severe Thunderstorm Warnings within Hennepin County, which is unusually quiet for this far into the year, with "peak" severe weather season behind us. This, however, can change at any time.


Wind and lightning were not the only thing exciting residents, but the rain was greatly welcomed. These storms did not give out precipitation equally, though, with northern cities receiving over an inch of rain, southern cities receiving less than half an inch, and some central cities barley getting trace amounts (collected from CoCoRaHS and Hennepin West Mesonet data). Even with the rain, the region is still in severe drought, with exceptional drought now being reported just northeast of the county for the third year in a row.


Graph of precipitation from July 19, 2023.

The graphic above shows 2021's, 2022's, and 2023's precipitation accumulation through July (with 2023's ending on the 21st of July) compared to the average annual accumulation. As seen above, even with the precipitation received on the 19th, 2023, it was not the relief that was hoped for. May had seen a plateau in the amount of precipitation recorded, and in total the county is now experiencing a deficit between 2021 and 2022 precipitation totals, even with the above average precipitation in winter / early spring. This steep loss of precipitation will need more than small scale convective storms and require longer soaker events to replenish the moisture in the soil and refill the lakes and streams.