Drought expands in Iowa despite heavy rains

By: - September 1, 2022 10:54 am

Drought conditions have expanded in southeast Iowa, which had little or no rain last week. (Graphic courtesy of U.S. Drought Monitor)

Drought conditions worsened in southeast Iowa in the past week — where there was little to no rain — and the overall areas of drought statewide expanded despite some heavy rainfall, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The worst drought in northwest Iowa was relatively unchanged in the Drought Monitor’s latest report on Thursday.

Heavy rainfall of up to 4 inches that bisected the state from its southwest corner to its northeast alleviated some dryness in southwest and central Iowa. Northeast Iowa has been largely wet throughout the year.

The trouble lies to the southeast, where more than a dozen counties had less than a half inch of rain last week. The better part of three counties had none, according to a weekly weather report by State Climatologist Justin Glisan.

There, the areas classified as having moderate and severe drought expanded. They have not yet been deemed “extreme,” the second-worst classification that has been contained to a smaller pocket of northwest Iowa for much of the year. “Exceptional” is the worst classification.

The Drought Monitor’s assessments are generally based on a variety of weather data, soil-moisture indicators, the movement of surface water and local observations.

In southeast Iowa, about 10% of the soil has adequate moisture for crops, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report on Monday. Less than a third of the soil of southwest Iowa has adequate moisture. Compare that with northeast Iowa, where about 90% of soil has sufficient water for crops.

Statewide crop conditions stabilized in the past two weeks after a month of declines that accelerated in August.

Drought Monitor projections indicate the state’s drought will persist in September and will likely expand in far southern Iowa. The only area of the country where drought conditions are predicted to improve are in far southern states, including Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

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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.