ST. CLOUD -- We are seeing water levels on the Mississippi River in St. Cloud that we haven't seen in decades.

Below the St. Cloud Dam, photo by's Jim Maurice

The city of St. Cloud announced Monday that it was shutting down the second unit of the hydroelectric dam after water flows dropped to just 700 cubic feet per second.  The city says this is the first time it has had to completely shut down the dam since the drought year of 1988.

According to data from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the flow was down to just 587 cubic feet per second, as of 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday.  The graph below shows the decline of the water level from June 1st to now. It was at about 4,500 cfs to start the summer.

Image courtesy of the MN DNR
The boat launch at St. Cloud State, photo by's Jim Maurice

The National Weather Service says so far for the summer months of June, July and August St. Cloud is 5.59 inches below normal for rainfall.  And, for the entire year so far, St. Cloud is 5.68 inches of precipitation below normal.

Below the St. Cloud Dam, photo by's Jim Maurice

The U.S. Drought Monitor says, as of last Thursday, 42 percent of the state is in an extreme drought including all of Benton and Sherburne counties and the eastern half of Stearns county.  With little to no rain in the state since last Thursday, that number is most definitely going to go even higher with the new weekly report comes out this Thursday.

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As of Monday, St. Cloud is restricting lawn watering to just one day a week.

St. Cloud Dam, photo by's Jim Maurice

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says we're going to need six to eight inches of rain to pull ourselves out of the drought.

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