While there have been scattered showers, parts of Iowa have had very little rain since mid-summer and the continued dry weather is drawing down soil moisture levels.

State climatologist Justin Glisan says while drought conditions are lessening in some areas, they’re worsening elsewhere, as much of Iowa’s western third is now in moderate to severe drought.

“Subsoil conditions across much of the region show a below-normal percentile,” Glisan says. “Recent warm and windy days produced higher evaporate demand in the atmosphere, so the atmosphere is thirsty, especially for this time of year, those conditions allow for extraction of any subsoil moisture or surface moisture that we see.”

We’re heading into a drier time of year, so Glisan says it will be difficult to recharge soil moisture levels before spring.

“With a lack of precipitation, this makes rainfall infiltration when we do get it harder to get down deep,” he says. Glisan says that lack of soil moisture may bring some help to Iowa’s farmers in the spring.

“The silver lining here is that moving into the growing season, drier-than-normal conditions will make field work and planting easier,” Glisan says. “If you go back, the last two or three years, we’ve had pretty wet conditions going into the growing season with record subsoil moisture which delayed planting.”

Conditions could change within a matter of several weeks, as Glisan says the trends point to above-normal precipitation for January through March.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton