The DNR’s Tim Hall, says a couple of months of below normal precipitation have made an impact. “For the first time since October of last year, we’ve got some areas of the state tagged by the drought monitor as being abnormally dry,” Hall says. Hall says it’s just an early signal of something to be watching.
“Technically they reference that as not being a drought. But it indicates that conditions are moving in the direction where you could end up with some drought conditions flagged here if the dryness continues,” Halls says. He says it is a pretty good sized section of the state.
“There’s a larger area that encompasses east-central and southeast back kind of along the I-80 corridor toward Des Moines. And then there’s a couple of smaller areas in western Iowa and southwestern Iowa,” according to Hall. “All told — it’s about 36% of the state that’s rated as abnormally dry.”
June and July combined were 2.3 inches below normal for rainfall. “Despite these two months of drier than normal conditions — we’re still in a 12-month moving period where it is the wettest 12-month period on record for the state,” Hall says. He says the abnormally dry conditions are something to note — but it’s too early to say it will be a long-term issue.
“It’s a pattern that could easily disappear if we get some rainstorms. It’s also a pattern that could intensify if things don’t improve,” Hall says. “Right now we don’t have any basins in the state that are showing below-normal stream flow, so that’s good. So the surface water is in good shape. We are not seeing any areas that’re stressed for shallow groundwater for drinking water. So, we’re sort of banking off the previous year’s worth of wet weather.”
Hall says the last time we had extremely dry conditions was two years ago in the southern part of the state — but that was all washed away when the wet pattern started. You can see a full report on Iowa’s water resource trends at: www.iowadnr.gov/watersummaryupdate.