The latest rains across Iowa continue to add to what is now a positive groundwater picture. Tim Hall, who tracks groundwater levels for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says we can officially put the word drought away for awhile when referring to the state’s water situation.
Hall says it wasn’t that long ago when many were wondering if that would be possible. “I look back at the drought monitor from one year ago — from the middle of October last year — and it was really bleak about one year ago,” Hall says. “Most of the state was in some sort of drought, and it had sort of been lingering for a long time.”
Hall says things were dry going back even farther to the fall of 2011. “It’s nice now to get to the point where it appears that the long-term gradual moisture from this year has really pushed the drought out of the state. It’s nice to see. It’s been really wet going into the fall, this is what we like to see, so yeah, it’s in pretty good shape,” Hall says.
The last remnants of the drought had hung on until September’s above normal rainfall. “For awhile that northeastern corner of the state into southwest Wisconsin had been a little on the dry side — but we are out of it in Iowa right now. We’ve been out if for a month and it’s dramatically better than it was a year ago,” according to Hall.
He says things seemed to balance out this spring, and the drier conditions actually helped prevent problems during a wet periods. “The National Weather Service folks have pointed out that one of the things that really worked to the benefit of the state of Iowa this year given the spring rain, was that we did have very dry soil conditions back in the spring,” Hall says, “so, we were able to absorb a lot of the rainfall that came early in the spring season because the soil was so dry.”
The U.S.D.A. National Agricultural Statistics Service says the subsoil moisture levels measured on October 5th had been greater only twice — in 2007 and 2010 — among the past 20 years.