DES MOINES — The latest Iowa Drought Monitor shows drought conditions have worsened. There’s been an 18% increase in extreme drought conditions since last week’s report.
“The big standout that we see on the map this week is a big expansion of that D3 extreme drought category across north central into northeastern Iowa,” State Climatologist Justin Glisan says.
There’s a persistent area of extreme drought in southeast Iowa as well. Some farmers have begun chopping corn for silage because most leaves on the stalks have died. “Corn is drying up out there. Soybeans are dropping pods because of the heat and the dryness,” Glisan says. “Harvest is going to come at us fast given the drier conditions and the warmer temperatures that we’ve seen.”
Small sections of Fremont and Ringgold Counties are the only areas of Iowa considered to be drought-free and Glisan says 99.49% of the entire state is now in some level of drought. The USDA began issuing Drought Monitor reports 23 years ago.
“This is going into the 166th week of at least D1, that moderate drought category, somewhere in the state, so the longest drought that we’ve had since the Drought Monitor came into inception,” Glisan says, “but also longer term than the 1988 and 2012 droughts.”
Those two drought years were more intense because of particularly warm temperatures in the upper Midwest, according to Glisan. Glisan says the statewide average rainfall is about 3.25 inches in August. That’s about an inch below normal, but Glisan says there is wide variation in sections of the state.
“If you look at the climate divisions in eastern Iowa, so climate division 3 is the northeastern corner and then east central is where the nose of Iowa is — it’s the top 10 driest August on record,” Glisan says, “so that statewide average is skewed where we see higher precipitation totals across the southern part of the state.”
The southern two tiers of Iowa got an average amount of rainfall during the past month. On this last day of August, there is no rain in the forecast anywhere in Iowa.