2016 ranks third wettest ‘water year’ since 1872

Each bi-weekly Water Summary Update provides the current status of water resources in Iowa in terms of precipitation, stream flow, shallow groundwater, and drought monitoring. (Iowa DNR)
Jenna Ladd | October 14, 2016

Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released its most current Water Summary Update earlier this week.

DNR prepares the bi-weekly updates in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the U.S. Geological Survey, and The Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division. Each report provides an overview of the status of Iowa’s water resources and significant events that affect water supplies using four categories: precipitation, stream flow, shallow groundwater, and drought monitoring.

The most recent update is a snapshot of the state’s water resources from August 31st through October 10th. The report notes that different parts of Iowa experienced a wide range of rainfall totals. Heavy rains pelted the Cedar River watershed during much of September, with the largest storm-total rainfall of 10.56 inches near Nora Springs in Floyd County. In contrast, some parts of southeastern Iowa experienced a particularly dry September. Most notably, rain totals were less than one-third of the average near Fairfield and Ottumwa. Average statewide rainfall was 6.29 inches or 2.91 inches above average, making it the rainiest September since 1986.

Streamflow was also reported to be above average for much of the state. The update notes that U.S. Geological Survey employees have been taking additional streamflow measurements following heavy rain events at the end of September in the Cedar and Wapsipinicon River basins. In several locations along the Shell Rock, Cedar, and Wapsipinicon Rivers, peak stream flow was found to be the second-highest in recorded history. These values are only topped by the historic 2008 flood.

October 1st through September 30th is considered the “water year” by experts in the field. The 2016 Water Year, which ended on September 30th, 2016, is the third wettest year on record in 144 years.

Extremes characterize “normal” Iowa weather year

Photo by Katie Haugland; Flickr

Precipitation statistics could lead future cursory analysts to jump to the mistaken conclusion that 2013 was a pretty normal year.

To check out the yearly statistics and what they mean,  head over to The Gazette.

On the Radio: Warmer temperatures linked to increased rainfall

Photo by iowa_spirit_walker, Flickr.
Photo by iowa_spirit_walker, Flickr.

Listen to this week’s radio segment here or read the transcript below. This week’s segment discusses the connection between warmer temperatures and increased rainfall.

A University of Iowa study shows an increase in heavy rainfall is connected to increased temperatures in the upper Midwest.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

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Drought conditions continue to spread across Iowa

Graphic courtesy of the National Drought Mitigation Center.

An updated map by the U.S. drought monitor shows a significant expansion of drought conditions through eastern and northwest Iowa.

Rainfall totals in Iowa for the months of May and June were less than half of normal, and what little precipitation the state received has been baked from the soil by a heatwave generating temperatures of 100 degrees or more across the state.

Bryce Knorr of Farm Futures Magazine said this morning “triple digit heat will cover much of the heart of the Corn Belt again today, with only partial relief in sight. While temperatures will slowly cool from the northwest, only limited chances for rain are in sign for key states over the next week.”

For more information, read the full article at the Des Moines Register.

Several Iowa counties updated to drought status

Graphic courtesy of the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Several counties in eastern Iowa have been updated to drought status, according to U.S. Drought Monitor map issued by the National Weather Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the University of Nebraska.

The map adds the counties of Scott, Clinton, Jackson, Dubuque to the affected drought area, while also downgrading other counties from “abnormally dry” status after ample rainfall last week.

For more information, read the full article at the Des Moines Register.

Iowa farmland short of moisture

Photo by cwwycoff1, Flickr.

The United States Department of Agriculture categorized more than half of Iowa’s farmland as moisture-deficient on Monday despite an average of 1.5 inches of rainfall last week.

“We could definitely use a couple of inches of rain right now to get things going,” said Russ Meade, who farms soybeans and corn in a farm outside Tiffin, Iowa. “There are some beans just popping their head out of the ground right now. We need to get another inch or two (of rain) to make sure everything that’s still left out there can pop out.”

Iowan’s have not experienced significant rainfall since May 6, according to state climatologist Harry Hillaker, and although the state isn’t facing a record dry spell, high temperatures and low humidity have caused precipitation in the air and ground to evaporate faster than normal.

For more information, read the full articles at the Press-Citizen and The Gazette.

On the Radio: Extreme weather causes decline in Iowa’s pheasant population

Photo by gerrybuckel, Flickr.

Listen to this week’s radio segment here or read the transcript below. This week’s segment discusses the effects of extreme weather on Iowa’s pheasant population.

Year after year of extreme weather has caused a severe decline in Iowa’s pheasant population.

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