Extreme drought conditions are reported in parts of four northwest Iowa counties in Thursday’s updated Drought Monitor from the University of Nebraska, the U.S.D.A. and NOAA.

Severe drought is reported in another dozen northwest Iowa counties, including Dickinson County, which is home to the Iowa Great Lakes.

The dry conditions almost derailed an annual fundraiser by the Iowa Great Lakes Rotary Club. The club puts a car on the ice of West Lake Okoboji and sells raffle tickets with dates and times. The winner is determined based on when a clock in the car stops because the car has dropped through the ice and the clock is submerged in the water.

“The water is extremely low this year, 20-30 inches down, and the clock just made it under the water because it’s attached to the underside of the roof, above the driver’s seat,” Iowa Great Lakes Rotary president Leo Kofoot says. “The roof was exposed the whole time, but the clock evidently got just low enough so it got in the water and stopped the time when it went in.”

Kofoot says he’s never seen the lake level so low. The car, by the way, is retrieved from the lake by a towing company and reused for the next year’s fundraiser. In 2017’s warm winter, the car’s clock stopped when it went underwater in late February. In 2018, the ice held on West Lake Okoboji until late April. The timing of this year’s break in the ice happened within seven hours of winter turning to spring.

(By George Bower, KICD, Spencer)