As much precipitation as Iowa’s received over the last year, it’s hard to imagine a drought could be on the way. But, Iowa State University Extension Climatologist Elwyn Taylor says Iowa is due for a possible dry spell later in the year.
He says, historically, serious droughts come along every 19 years. The last major drought in the cornbelt was in 1988. "We’ve got our 19 years," Taylor says. "That’s not enough to say there’s going to be drought, of course, but it’s enough to be quite watchful for these things." Taylor says there are other factors that increase the possibility of a dry spell this year.
South Carolina experienced a major drought last year and in the past, it’s always been followed by a drought through the corn belt. "It’s just a typical thing," Taylor explains, "they get a drought in South Carolina, and then the next year that moves into the corn belt…as it did from 1987 to ’88." Taylor also points out that droughts never seem to occur when an El Nino weather pattern is in place, but can exist during a La Nina pattern.
"We entered La Nina on Christmas Day, this past Christmas," Taylor said. The National Weather Service released it’s latest long range forecast on Thursday. "And their forecast for this summer is that this La Nina will not persist, that it will be gone by May. That’s something we sincerely hope will come to pass, but we’ll be watching that very closely," Taylor said. Last year was Iowa’s 4th wettest year on record.