The Ottumwa Courier

February 7, 2013

Minor shifts mark Iowa's drought map

MATT MILNER
CNHI

OSKALOOSA — This winter has been a tale of minor changes in Iowa's drought story. There has been little change week to week, even as moisture has been closer to normal.

Unfortunately, normal precipitation for an Iowa winter translates as not much.

Last week's snow didn't do much for Iowa's drought, but there was one tiny shift that was noteworthy: For the first time since the week of July 10 part of the state is listed as abnormally dry. That's the least serious drought category.

It's not much. In fact, the area isn't big enough to be seen on the U.S. Drought Monitor's map. But if you look at the percentages, you see that 0.02 percent of Iowa is now considered abnormally dry instead of in moderate drought.

At the other end of the spectrum, exceptional drought, there was no change at all. The northwestern corner of Iowa, or 1.23 percent of the state's area, remains in the most serious category.

Most of Iowa remains in severe or extreme drought, but both categories have completely retreated from southeast Iowa. Most of eastern Iowa has now dropped to the moderate drought category.

While last week's snowfall and today's rain have an impact on drought, that's not the only concern for experts. The ground is still frozen, so little of the melting snow and rain is penetrating into the soil. That means farmers will be planting into dry ground unless we see rain as the soil thaws.