The Ottumwa Courier

April 4, 2013

Drought recovery stalls as April begins

MATT MILNER
CNHI

OTTUMWA — Iowa's drought situation didn't budge at all in the past week, though there is reason to suspect things may improve again soon.

Last summer's drought was the most intense in decades and concerns linger about whether the soil has enough moisture to prevent another tough year for farmers. The U.S. Drought Monitor's final March report finally showed portions of southeast Iowa emerging entirely from drought.

This week's report, released Thursday morning, shows a pause in that trend toward improvement. The week-to-week numbers didn't budge at all. But there are chances of rain on  the coming Saturday, Sunday night and Monday. That could push things further along if the area receives enough.

The spring is critical because it's when the ground thaws. Winter precipitation can reduce drought, but it does little to address the underlying problem of soil moisture. Frozen ground absorbs little, if any, precipitation.

The National Weather Service's three-month forecast shows the eastern two thirds of Iowa with a higher probability of above average precipitation than normal. It's no guarantee, but it does suggest the drought is ending for at least the eastern part of the state.