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Iowa’s drought is worst in 9 years

By: - November 4, 2022 2:02 pm

Extreme drought has expanded in northwest Iowa. (Graphic courtesy of U.S. Drought Monitor)

The state is drier than it’s been since March 2013, according to a recent U.S. Drought Monitor report.

Drought conditions worsened despite last week’s relatively heavy rains in eastern Iowa that pushed the statewide average rainfall above what is normally expected — 0.66 of an inch versus 0.54 of an inch. It’s unclear how much widespread rains this week might alleviate the drought.

All of the state was abnormally dry or worse this week, the Drought Monitor reported Thursday. About 89% of Iowa had some degree of drought.

The Drought Monitor uses four classifications to describe drought: moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional. An area of extreme drought continues to expand in northwest Iowa.

There is a small pocket of exceptional drought south of Sioux City along the Nebraska border.

The worst dryness in Iowa recorded by the Drought Monitor was in 2012, when about 75% of the state was suffering from extreme drought. About 11% of the state had that designation this week.

The drought is predicted to persist in November for most of the state, according to Drought Monitor outlooks. The exception is southern Iowa, where drought conditions are expected to improve.

As winter approaches, less than a third of the state’s farmland has adequate soil moisture, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report on Monday.

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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.