Thirty Iowa counties this summer were designated drought disaster areas, enabling farmers to apply for financial remedies for their lost yields. It may be too early to say the drought’s ended but the situation’s improved a bit, according to a forecaster in the national drought center. Brian Fuchs works in the High Plains Regional Climate Center, and says in western and southwest Iowa where it’s been dry for years, things started to improve. But in the eastern part of the state a drought began around the middle of the spring and continued all summer. While parts of the state have recovered somewhat he says the eastern edge of the state is still very dry for this time of year. Iowa mainly depends on moisture that’s carried in the air up from the Gulf of Mexico. Rather than Rocky Mountain snows or rivers passing through the state, he says water blown this way on storms is where most of the water in Iowa comes from. And while it’s been a drought year in parts of Iowa, Fuchs says it’s a different kind of drought than they’ve suffered recently in western states like Nebraska. Iowa hasn’t seen a large drop in stream levels or lakes, though soil dried out on top and in places down to lower levels. But even in a dry year like this one, he says crops may do pretty well just because Iowa gets more rain on a normal basis. The climate expert says the current cold spell, while a jarring change from 80-degree temps earlier this week, is pretty close to normal for this time of year.
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