Drought likely to continue through spring

IARN — Dry conditions are likely to continue in the western part of Iowa through the spring.

On Wednesday, January 13th, the Iowa DNR and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship sponsored a virtual meeting to provide insight into ongoing drought conditions in the state.

The latest US Drought Monitor shows the western third of Iowa is in at least moderate drought, with extreme drought conditions in far northwestern Iowa. The last time Iowa was this dry was in 2012, which included a stretch of extreme drought in 2.5 percent of the state. Iowa State Climatologist Dr. Justin Glisan says the current drought isn’t stacking up to be as bad as 2012.

“The 2012 drought was pervasive in its extent and in its timeframe in which it existed,” said Glisan. “We’re not seeing these long-term precipitation deficits stack up yet going back two years, but we are seeing shorter-term precipitation deficits take hold, along with sub-soil deficits, so here we are.”

According to Dennis Todey – Director of USDA’s Midwest Climate Hub in Ames – current conditions and outlooks show the dry spell will persist through the spring.

“Changes are unlikely very soon,” said Todey. “The drought is going to persist for a period of time. Part of that is climatology. Even in big winter storms, there’s not a lot of liquid. While a big snowstorm can provide melt off and provide surface water, which is a positive, our soils are mainly frozen now so we need to get thawing soils before we can get any kind of precipitation into those soils.”

In addition to impacting crop production with dry soils, the drought may have an impact on surface drinking water in the northwest part of the state, which is particularly reliant on surface water for supply.

Story courtesy of the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network


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