April Rains Improve Drought Conditions


Consistent above-normal rainfall in April has improved overall drought conditions across the state, leading to increased river and stream levels, according to the latest Water Summary Update.

April’s preliminary statewide precipitation was 4.16 inches, or 0.49 inches above normal. At the end of April, Iowa’s Drought Plan showed overall drought conditions have improved statewide, with areas of northeast and southern Iowa continuing to carry a “drought watch” designation. For the first time in nearly two years, no areas in Iowa carry an “extreme drought” designation, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Recent rainfall amounts indicate conditions may continue to improve throughout the spring.

April showed an average statewide temperature just over two degrees above normal. Five of the last seven months have been wetter than normal, resulting in improved streamflow and soil moisture, and reduction of drought coverage in Iowa. 

While the recent rainfall has led to an improvement in drought conditions, areas of the state continue to carry drought designations due to long-standing significant precipitation shortages over the past year. Some parts of Iowa have precipitation deficits nearly 7 inches below normal, and the state has now seen 209 consecutive weeks of dryness or drought conditions. 

“April is normally a wet month, so a wetter than normal April is certainly welcome.  Four years of drought will not be eliminated in just a month or two, but progress is being seen,” said Tim Hall, the DNR’s Hydrology Resources Coordinator. “We are in the critical months for water resources in Iowa, and a wetter than normal trend is encouraging.”

May through August normally brings half of the annual rainfall to the state, so the next few months are critical to long-term water resources in Iowa. 

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