Drought conditions get worse again

DES MOINES — The new drought monitor shows the same old story for Iowa, the drought conditions are not getting better. 

Tim Hall of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the areas that didn’t get some of last week’s rain show up in the drought map. “It did get a little worse, particularly in northeastern and eastern Iowa, where it has been exceptionally dry. We did get that little bit of rain over the weekend, but it didn’t extend very far north,” Hall says. 

Northeast Iowa has the most counties in extreme or severe drought conditions. Both of those designations increased statewide last week with nearly 26% of the state in extreme drought and almost 73% in severe drought.  Hall says the water levels in some rivers and streams are much lower than normal for this time of year. “The West Fork of the Cedar River,  it’s really low. In fact, that’s one part of the state that’s pretty low, northeast Iowa,” he says. ” And then if you look at the Middle Raccoon, or the North Raccoon River, it’s running below 10 percent of normal flow,” Hall says. 

He says flows tend to be low this time of year anyway, and being 10 percent below normal really indicates how little rainfall we’ve had.  Hall says water systems that pull from rivers have one thing in their favor. “We’re in a time of the year when the demand for water tends to go down. So that certainly helps any water utility that is being careful with their water supply,” he says.

But Hall says there is a lot of concern about when we might get some rain to replenish the dry areas. “Especially water utilities that rely on streamflow are going to be looking at the current conditions as we head into the drier months of fall, and thinking very carefully about what it means for their utilities going into the winter, and then ultimately into the spring months, if we don’t get some improvement,” Hall says. 

He says the short term forecast doesn’t call for much precipitation to help with the problem.



== In north-central Iowa, all of Cerro Gordo, Worth, Floyd, Mitchell, most of Butler and Franklin, the eastern half of Wright and the far eastern portions of Winnebago and Hancock counties are in the D-3 Extreme Drought category, while the rest of the western part of our listening area is in the D-2 Severe Drought category.