ST. PAUL Minnesota’s drought conditions continued to worsen into this week, but the weekend forecast could bring a bit of relief to the parched region.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly report Thursday, Aug. 5, virtually the entire state remained in a drought. But the portion of Minnesota considered to be in extreme drought jumped from 22% last week to 35% this week.

Little rain fell in those areas over the past seven days. Most of them recorded 4.5 to 6 inches less than normal rainfall during the past 60 days, and up to 8.5 inches short of normal since early May.

On May 4, none of Minnesota was experiencing extreme drought conditions and only 37% of the state was abnormally dry.

The drought has caused levels in lakes and rivers to plunge, with many water utilities imposing restrictions on lawn watering. The dry conditions have also exacerbated wildfire conditions in northeastern Minnesota’s forests, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

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According to the National Weather Service’s regional forecast, there is a 50% chance of storms Thursday and Thursday night. A stronger system will bring a more widespread chance of showers and thunderstorms this weekend.

However, expected rainfall totals won’t be enough to bring significant relief to the low soil moisture levels.