State climatologist Justin Glisan says the latest drought map from the U.S. Drought Monitor has a new “D-1” area of moderate drought that’s appeared in northeast Iowa. Also, the vast majority of the state is now considered abnormally dry, which Glisan says is something of a warning.
“We’ve had a significant expansion of that D-O or abnormally dry category,” Glisan says. “As a reminder, that’s not drought but it is a sentinel for us to recognize that we are seeing drier-than-normal conditions, given precipitation deficits through late spring.”
The map shows the northwestern area of the state continues to be the driest.
“We have that existing D-2 severe drought region there,” Glisan says. “Now, we haven’t seen any recent degradation as we have had precipitation fall, sometimes at timely levels. We’re still keeping a close eye on that northwest corner, given the longer-term precipitation deficits that we see there.”
Forecasters are calling for a chance of rain early next week and turning the calendar page may bring a change in the drought conditions. “If we look at the short-term outlooks, getting into the beginning of May, we do see elevated signals for wetter-than-normal conditions,” he says, “and then if we look at the initial May outlook, again, we do see an elevated signal for wetter conditions.”
On the plus side, in recent weeks there was a large patch of D-3 — or extreme drought — covering several northwest Iowa counties, which is just below the worst category, D-4, for exceptional drought. This latest map shows no D-3 in Iowa at all.
(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)