Earlier in the week we told you about the President approving Governor Terry Branstad’s request to designate five northwest Iowa counties federal disaster areas. The counties named in the presidential declaration are Dickinson, Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola and Sioux for severe weather that hit April ninth through the 11th. That disaster declaration will provide federal funding to the declared counties for repairing of damage to public property and cleanup of debris.
Next we told you about a designation for farms in the top tier of counties in northwest Iowa affected by the ice storm. That designation is from the USDA for four Iowa counties as part of a Presidential Major Disaster Designation. Eligible family farmers with qualifying production and physical losses caused by severe winter storms from April 9 through April 11, 2013 may be eligible for low-interest emergency loans.
Now comes word of a third disaster designation. But this one is not for the ice storm, but rather the drought. Plymouth and Sioux Counties have been designated as primary natural disaster areas due to damages and losses caused by the recent drought.
Farms in contiguous counties also qualify for assistance. Those would be Cherokee, Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola and Woodbury counties.
The good news is the drought is improving. Last week the US Drought Monitor showed that basically all of Lyon and Sioux Counties were in severe or D2 drought. The improvement is creeping westward. Now a small strip of eastern Lyon and Sioux Counties as well as all of O’Brien and Osceola Counties are in D1, or Moderate Drought. Statewide, we’re past the halfway point back to completely normal. Last week, just over 46 percent of the land in the state was drought-free. This week, it’s over 58 percent experiencing no drought.
All that rain is causing some short-term headaches for farmers who want to get that land planted. National Weather Service Meteorologist Miles Schumacher says we could see a few showers over the weekend, then we’ll probably stay dry. He says it should be a little bit of a drier pattern that what we’ve been in, at least for the next few days. Slight chances of showers creep in again Tuesday and Wednesday. But starting on Monday we should have highs in the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s.