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‘Extreme’ drought expands to more than third of Iowa


Written by JARED STRONG Iowa Capital Dispatch

Iowa– The state’s dryness has continued to worsen, and extreme drought now encompasses more than a third of Iowa, according to a U.S. Drought Monitor report on Thursday.The area of extreme drought — the second-worst of four classifications — has long occupied a substantial swath of eastern Iowa but has stretched into west-central Iowa in the past week. Its total area increased about 28%.Not since 2012 has there been so much of the state in extreme drought, although that year it peaked at three-quarters of the state, according to Drought Monitor data.

Overall dryness in the state is still slightly better than it was three months ago, when exceptional drought — the worst classification — was noted in areas of eastern Iowa.The state benefitted from above-normal precipitation in October, which was the first in eight months to not have a rainfall deficit, according to State Climatologist Justin Glisan. But November was very dry: the state averaged about three-tenths of an inch — just 16% of normal.

As such, the state has become gradually drier in the past seven weeks. However, some relief is expected in the next week as the National Weather Service predicts at least an inch of rainfall for most of the state, with the heaviest amounts in southern Iowa.The ground is not frozen in most of the state and that increases the likelihood for soil to absorb the  rainfall. The Weather Service expects temperatures to be well above average for the next week.At least a small portion of the state has been suffering from drought conditions continuously since July 2020.The federal Climate Prediction Center expects drought to persist in most of the state through March, according to a Thursday report. The exceptions are a large area of northwest Iowa that is classified as “abnormally dry” and the far eastern tip of Iowa, where there is no drought.

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