Capital Clicks

‘Severe’ drought or worse overtakes Iowa

By: - September 14, 2023 2:09 pm

About three-quarters of the state is now suffering from severe or extreme drought. (Courtesy of U.S. Drought Monitor)

Almost all of the state is suffering from some measure of drought, and dry conditions intensified over large areas of western Iowa in the past week, according to a U.S. Drought Monitor report on Thursday.

The only remaining pocket of the state with normal soil moisture is in the far southwest corner in Fremont County. Strips of southwest and southeast Iowa are deemed abnormally dry, but everywhere else — about 97% of the state — has drought.

The Drought Monitor uses four degrees to classify that drought: moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional.

None of Iowa has the worst classification. But the areas that have severe or extreme drought now cover about 73% of the state.

All or part of about three dozen counties in eastern Iowa have had extreme drought in the past two weeks. The increase in drought intensity in the past week was most notable in western Iowa, where severe drought expanded into more than a dozen counties.

A recent lack of rainfall also caused drought to develop in an area of northwest Iowa that was previously classified as “abnormally dry.”

All told, the state is drier than it’s been since December 2012.

Last week, the state averaged about 0.07 inches of rainfall, compared with a normally expected amount of 0.84 inches.

There is a chance for rain in the next week, but that is mostly for the western half of the state, according to the National Weather Service. Much of southwest Iowa is projected to get a half inch of rain or more. Southeast Iowa might have almost none.

The federal Climate Prediction Center has reported that drought is likely to develop further and remain for months.

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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.