Even with the recent rain and snow, much of Iowa’s still far short of precipitation for the year and we’re heading into the drier, colder seasons with little chance of replenishing soil moisture levels before spring.
Meteorologist Dennis Todey, who heads the U.S.D.A.’s Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, says wide areas of the state are still recovering from long-running drought conditions. “We are beginning to be aware and concerned about refilling that soil moisure profile,” Todey says. “We’re talking about whatever the depth is in your area, four, five, six feet of soil that contains a certain amount of moisture.”
The snow and rain that fell in the past week helps to bring some short-term drought relief, but he says much more precipitation will be needed to recharge depleted soil moisture levels. “You like to have at least some of that profile refilled with moisture before the end of fall,” he says, “and so far, we’ve not had much going into the soil moisure bank that’s stored up for next year.”
Todey says the expected weather patterns don’t look promising for significant rainfall or snowfall, noting, August of 2020 was the driest in Iowa in 148 years. “La Nina is not giving us a lot of optimism in the western corn belt,” Todey says. “The eastern corn belt, we’re dry but there’s less concern because, as you saw in the outlooks, we have a better chance of precipitation and climatologically, they tend to get more precipitation over in that area anyway.”
The latest drought monitor shows very dry conditions over all but extreme eastern Iowa.
(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)