Drought area disappears in eastern Iowa after recent rains

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 7:18 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - No parts of eastern Iowa are technically considered to be in a drought after a long stretch of generally cool and wet weather.

That’s according to the latest information from this week’s drought monitor. The weekly recap of which areas are driest in the country is put together by scientists who specialize in this part of meteorology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The portion of Iowa that is no longer in at least moderate drought shrunk by about half, with nearly all of the reduction coming in eastern Iowa. An area of moderate drought, classified as D1 on a scale that goes from D0 (abnormally dry) to D4 (exceptional drought), that stretched from east-central Iowa into southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois was completely removed from the map, according to analysts. A more persistent area of drought in west-central and northwest Iowa also shrank a bit, though portions of the state there still are placed in the severe drought, or D2, category.

The drought monitor, indicating areas of dryness or drought on a five-level scale, on Thursday,...
The drought monitor, indicating areas of dryness or drought on a five-level scale, on Thursday, April 28, 2022.(KCRG)

Other areas were removed from the lowest category that indicates “abnormal dryness.” At just over 54% of the state in none of the designations from D0 to D4, it’s the highest percentage to be unclassified since late November.

The reasons why we saw drought areas shrink this week in our area were primarily two-fold. We have seen a fair amount of rainfall lately, with most of it coming in steadier, soaking bouts instead of excessively heavy downpours that can run off rather than soak in. This has closed the gap on longer-term rainfall deficits and increased soil moisture.

The second factor that contributed was the continued below-normal temperatures. Less heat means less intense evaporation, so more of that rainfall stays in the ground and in our waterways than turns into water vapor in the air.

The scientists that put together the drought monitor did note one consequence of our wet and cool weather pattern: corn seeding is behind a five-year rolling average in the Midwest this year, including in Iowa. Local farmers will need some drier times ahead to catch up on that.

Each week, the cutoff for new information is 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, so some of the rain we’ve experienced this week hasn’t even been factored into our drought status yet. With additional rounds of rainfall likely in the next several days, we may see a further reduction in these dry areas around the state.

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