Iowa’s drought situation much better now

DES MOINES — A Department of Natural Resources expert says the state’s drought situation has improved dramatically as we enter the winter.

Tim Hall says the drought isn’t completely gone. “Right now about half the state is shown in some sort of drought condition — but most of that is D-zero — which is abnormally dry,” Hall says. “Now there’s a little stretch of D-1 moderate drought kind of winding its way from north-central Iowa down toward Waterloo in little patches.” 

Hall says the wet October was the big turning point — as a dry November didn’t help. “Had we seen normal rainfall in November — we might have gotten some improvement. Right now, the conditions are holding pretty steady in the state at about 13-percent of the state is now shown as D-1 moderate drought. And the total amount of the state shown in some form of drought is just over 50 percent,” according to Hall.  

Hall says the warmer temperatures have left the ground warmer and the door open for any moisture that falls to still be helpful. “It’s not frozen yet. It’ll take a pretty decent stretch of cold weather to get that soil frozen — especially at the top,” he says. “Once that soil at the ground surface freezes — that pretty much shuts down the infiltration of moisture. So, hopefully, we’ll get a few more weeks where we can get some water into the ground.”

He says any rain or snow we get now is a bonus. “It’s really important to keep an eye on what’s going on here probably for the next couple of weeks. Any moisture we get will help us out  — because it’ll get locked into the soil profile,” Hall says.

Hall says the water that gets into the ground now will be key when it comes time to plant once again in the spring.