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All of Iowa is abnormally dry or worse

By: - October 13, 2022 12:24 pm

Another dry week worsened drought conditions in Iowa. (Courtesy of U.S. Drought Monitor)

The entire state is now abnormally dry or suffering from drought conditions for the first time in nine years, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

All of northeast Iowa — which had ample rainfall for much of the summer — is abnormally dry, the Drought Monitor’s Thursday report said. Areas of severe and extreme drought also expanded in northeast and southeast areas of the state.

As a whole, the state is the driest it’s been since June 2021.

Last week was very dry even though much of the state had measurable precipitation, according to a recent weather report by State Climatologist Justin Glisan. The average rainfall for the week was 0.08 inch, compared with the normally expected rainfall of 0.62.

September was also a dry month with about half the normally expected rainfall statewide. It was the 24th driest on record, Glisan reported.

A portion of northwest Iowa has suffered from extreme drought — the second-to-worst designation — since June. In recent weeks, it has expanded considerably, affecting all or parts of 13 counties. There is a small sliver of Woodbury County near the Nebraska border where the drought is exceptional.

The Drought Monitor makes its weekly assessments based on a variety of weather data, soil-moisture indicators, the movement of surface water and local observations. It denotes four classifications of drought: moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional.

Moderate drought can cause some damage to crops, whereas exceptional drought can cause widespread crop losses.

The effects of this growing season’s drought conditions are becoming more apparent with harvest underway. About 23% of the state’s corn crop had been harvested as of Sunday, and an Iowa State University Extension field agronomist noted a distinct line that separated drought — and lower yields — from an area with better rainfall and high yields.

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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.