The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

April 4, 2014

Dry start to spring isn't a worry -- yet

OTTUMWA — Iowa hoped for rain last summer after a drought parched the state in 2012. What it got was another dry summer, and the state entered the winter months with widespread drought.

Conditions have improved some, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, but those gains may be slipping away. March rainfall totaled less than a quarter of the normal amount in Ottumwa, and April brought some rain but still short of the historical average.

State Climatologist Harry Hillaker said March did no favors for most of Iowa, but that didn’t hurt as much as what you might think. The ground was still largely frozen after an unusually bitter winter, so rainfall would have had a hard time getting into the soil.

In fact, he said, the last of the frost finally left the ground in southeastern Iowa just over the past week. Areas of northern Iowa still have several feet of frozen soil.

Hillaker called the state’s weather “amazingly persistent,” saying the trend has generally been for drier and warmer weather to the west, with wetter and colder weather to the east. But both of those are relative. No one in Iowa had what could be called a warm winter. And wetter in this case just means slightly less dry.

This week’s report from the monitor shows no change from last week. Since the report is based on data collected up to Tuesday, it doesn’t include the 0.18 inches of rain that has fallen on the Ottumwa area beginning Wednesday. While it was welcome, it was still short of what forecasters had expected.

“This last storm was something of a disappointment as far as rain goes,” Hillaker said.

While this little rain is unusual, it’s hardly unprecedented. Similarly dry starts to the year happened in 2000, 2003 and 2005. Those years didn’t have major droughts. You have to go back 20 years to find the last time southeast Iowa got off to a start significantly drier than this year, Hillaker said.

But with spring weather in 2014 starting out dry, you have to start wondering whether Iowa is in line for yet another year of crippling drought. Hillaker said there’s just not enough to go on yet.

It’s something to be aware of, he said, to know about. But worry about the dry run is still premature.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 0731 OTT Aviation plane -T -M Flying free OTTUMWA — The financial obstacle may have been removed if your career goal starts with learning to fly. "We have it set up for three terms, about nine months," said pilot and chief flight instructor Darren Graham at Indian Hills Community College. "

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Supervisors discuss pipeline potential KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren County Supervisors received preliminary, general information on a new pipeline being proposed to carry oil from North Dakota through Iowa, including Van Buren County, then crossing into Illinois. The proposed Bakken Pipeline wou

    July 30, 2014

  • Fairfield stabbing suspects' trials separated FAIRFIELD — The three people accused of dragging a man into a Fairfield apartment before robbing and stabbing him have had a judge grant their requests to separate their trials. Dawn Dunn, Dustin Roll and Brett Hedblade are each charged with willful

    July 30, 2014

  • Local business donates grain rescue tube KEOSAUQUA — Stockport Elevator, owned by Roquette America, donated a grain rescue tube to Birmingham and Stockport Fire Departments. A training session was conducted Monday, led by Dale Ekdahl, a representative of Outstate Data, LLC, the device’s man

    July 30, 2014

  • Where do my taxes go? OTTUMWA — Wapello County Board certified its tax levy. But what does that mean? Based on budgets submitted by various levying authors, the Wapello County Auditor prepares and certifies the levy rates for the county. Budgets for each levy are based on

    July 30, 2014

  • OCSD releases elementary supplies list

    OTTUMWA — For years, parents of the students in Ottumwa's elementary schools have had to check to make sure the school supplies list they grabbed was the right one for their school. No more.

    July 30, 2014

  • Reducing runoff at the local level AGENCY — Pollution isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you look out at a field of Iowa corn or soybeans, but there’s growing concern about what manages to get out of the fields and into the water. The same nutrients that benefit the crops c

    July 30, 2014

  • Supervisors wrestle with staffing woes KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren County Supervisor Chairman Bob Waugh says he wants county supervisors to help alleviate staffing problems within the county treasurer’s office. In May, supervisors opted not to replace a vacancy within the treasurer’s office. Va

    July 30, 2014

  • 0730 OTT Better Buildings -T -M Wildwood could be your home OTTUMWA — There was always one child per class who just adored school. If they went to Wildwood, they may soon be able to move in permanently. The Ottumwa board of education met Monday, where staff told them where the district stood as far as "facili

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • A changing roster -- for school board OTTUMWA — If the last time you saw your board of education was before Christmastime, the current school board might surprise you. Two members retired from the board: longtime educator Ron Oswalt stepped down, as did board president Carol Mitchell. Bo

    July 29, 2014

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook