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Drought in Iowa lessened by heavy rains

Photo Courtesy of National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC)

Heavy rains this week helped improve drought conditions throughout the state.

State Climatologist Harry Hillaker said while he would have liked to see heavy rains earlier this summer, any amount of rainfall is “better late than never.”

“That extreme drought area shrunk a tiny bit this past week. They did have some decent rains, but not enough to put a big dent in the extreme drought area. Central into northwestern and north central Iowa improved at least one category in the Drought Monitor. The areas that were (in) severe drought went down to moderate drought and the areas that were in the moderate drought category decreased to abnormally dry. A few areas (were lifted) out of drought all together,” Hillaker said.

Even with the help of recent rains, parts of south central and southeast Iowa remain under the severe drought category.

The next couple days show no indication of rain. However, Hillaker said portions of the state can expect to receive a small shower Saturday evening.

“The next good chance of rain is coming up towards the middle part of this weekend, Saturday night into Sunday. Even that does not look to be large rains, mostly quarter-inch and under. So, a roughly dry week coming up here. But what has been the case the last several weeks is rather mild temperatures for this time of the year. Temperatures generally being near to somewhat below normal for this time of the year,” Hillaker said.

Typically, the state would like to receive three-quarters of an inch to an inch of rain per week, throughout this time of year. However, Hillaker adds the need for moisture decreases later in the season.

“As we get later into the season, day-length is getting short and crops don’t need quite as much moisture to do what they need to do, so the rainfall isn’t getting to be quite as critical as it was earlier. In the dry areas, especially south central and southeast Iowa, I’d like to see more rain. (It) could at least help the soybeans, (and) it might be a little late for much improvement for corn. Still, I’d at least like to get some moisture and perhaps get us started for next year’s soil moisture reserves,” Hillaker said.