The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

September 26, 2013

Rain's impact on drought muted

OTTUMWA — It sounds hard to believe, but last week's rain didn't help most of the state's struggle with drought. In fact, it got worse in some areas.

The U.S. Drought Monitor released its latest report Thursday morning. For the first time since drought's resurgence this summer, part of the state entered extreme drought. It's a comparatively small area, a patch near Fort Dodge that encompasses only 1.76 percent of the state. But it's unwelcome.

Curiously, you don't need to go far from that patch to find an area of Iowa that has no drought rating whatever. A strip from approximately Dubuque to Waterloo is not considered to be drought-stricken at all. And the area has grown since the last report, expanding to just over 5 percent of Iowa.

Mark Svoboda of the National Drought Mitigation Center, said the week's findings aren't as counterintuitive as they seem. Different factors play into the map's creation, ranging from soil moisture levels to rainfall measurements. And it's important to remember drought doesn't arrive or leave in a single event.

“One thing is, when you're dealing with drought, it's kind of a cumulative impact,” Svoboda said. Instead, it's “a slow dwindling of the water supply.”

So, a given rain event might recharge streams or reservoirs while doing little to resolve drought. That's particularly likely if large amounts of rain fall in a short timespan, as it did last week.

That's when Svoboda said he center relies on contacts on the ground to make sense of the data. He cited State Climatologist Harry Hillaker as an important contact for Iowa. The center's experts can look at the data as recorded; Hillaker can tell them how the event unfolded.

Text Only
Local News
  • 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

  • Iowa Lottery Lottery sales top $3 million mark

    OTTUMWA — Mother Nature may have thrown Iowans a brutal winter, but it didn’t stop them from venturing out to buy lottery tickets. On Tuesday, the Iowa Lottery confirmed that it had topped the $3 million mark in sales for the third consecutive year.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • halo-5-guardians-concept_wallpaper-1920x1080-53cf9b0098ea45ada37dc0f66bc174f5.jpg The Art of Kong

    OTTUMWA — The Mona Lisa. Whistler's Mother. Donkey Kong? Don't be so surprised, said Walter Day, that video games and the surrounding memorabilia are being considered art. The creativity and artistic vision required to create a poster, said the found

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Slideshow: Truck overturns on roundabout

    July 28, 2014

  • 0729 OTT Picture veteran -T -M Veteran finally receives his medals OTTUMWA — A World War II injury may have saved the life of a U.S. Coast Guardsman from Iowa, but he lost friends and a box of military awards. Francis Hardy Harbour was born on Dec.16, 1919, in Drakesville. He joined the Coast Guard in 1941 as a mach

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Seasonal forecast Cool summer leading to cool fall? OTTUMWA — By late July, the average daytime high temperature starts to drop. What is normally the hottest part of the year is over. Averages are still in the mid-80s, and it certainly wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see days in even the upper 90s.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

Photo reprints