Wet October lifts drought from much of Iowa

By: - November 5, 2021 1:40 pm

Severe drought is gone from Iowa for now, but parts of the state are still abnormally dry (yellow) or in moderate drought (tan) as of this week. (Graphic by U.S. Drought Monitor)

Severe drought was vanquished from all parts of Iowa for the first time in more than a year thanks to widespread rainfall last month that made it one of the wettest Octobers on record.

An average of about 5 inches of rain fell across the state, according to a water summary update from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

“The widespread, above-normal rainfall in October was just what was needed in Iowa,” said Tim Hall, the DNR’s hydrology resources coordinator. “Good, soaking rainfall before the winter freeze will set us up for a much better start to 2022. Hopefully, this trend can continue for the next four to six weeks.”

The latest analysis by the U.S. Drought Monitor this week shows less than half of the state is abnormally dry or in moderate drought. That is a stark turnaround from June, when more than half the state was in severe or moderate drought.

The northern third of the state was in severe drought this summer. (Water Summary Update/Iowa DNR)

The dry summer was concerning for farmers, but some timely rains salvaged crop yields.

This week was the first since July 2020 that no part of the state was suffering from severe drought. Many areas of the state had more than double their normal amounts of rainfall. However, the far northeast had less than normal.

Osceola in southern Iowa recorded 7.42 inches, compared with its normal of 2.89, and Estherville in northwest Iowa had 7.05 inches, according to National Weather Service data. Waterloo had 3.72 inches.

The persistent rains slowed harvesting, but farmers are still ahead of the five-year average for completion, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. About 88% of the soybean crop was harvested as of Sunday, and 70% of corn had been harvested.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register. His investigative work exposing police misconduct has notched several state and national awards. He is a longtime trustee of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which fights for open records and open government. He is a lifelong Iowan and has lived mostly in rural western parts of the state.

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