Drought Conditions Remain in Western Iowa Despite Extra Snowfall in January


Graphic of Iowa map showing drought conditions
Via U.S. Drought Monitor

Nicole Welle | February 11, 2021

Precipitation levels were slightly higher than usual last month, but the added snowfall failed to improve drought conditions in western Iowa.

2020 was an extremely dry year for the state of Iowa, and many parts of the state have not yet recovered. In January, precipitation was 0.35 inches above average for that time of the year. However, it also averaged 4 degrees warmer than usual, and the Iowa DNR reported that at least half of the state is currently experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions. At the end of the month, a small section of northwest Iowa was in extreme drought, according to an Iowa Capital Dispatch article.

DNR officials warned that the shallow soils underneath the snowfall in western Iowa are dry enough to potentially push drought conditions into the spring. This could be problematic for farmers as they go into planting season. Even if precipitation levels continue to meet or exceed averages over the next few months, snowmelt likely won’t be able to improve soil conditions very quickly since groundwater is already frozen in place.

The U.S. drought monitor reported that 52% of the state is experiencing abnormally dry conditions, but it is still a significant improvement from three months ago when it was at 64%. State and Federal officials will host a virtual public meeting to discuss the conditions in western Iowa further on January 13.

Drought Conditions Worsen in Western Iowa


Via Flickr

Nicole Welle | July 27, 2020

Western Iowa has been abnormally dry recently, and nearly 40% of the state is now experiencing moderate to severe drought.

7.62% of Iowa is currently in severe drought, and 54% is now considered abnormally dry. Precipitation deficits have been accumulating for the last four to six months, and the continued drought could put crops and livestock at risk. Crops in areas most heavily affected by drought are showing signs of moisture stress, according to an SF article.

“We’re seeing pineapple corn. Corn leaves are rolling, soybean leaves are flipping over. You start to see the lower leaves on the corn firing,” said Iowa climatologist Justin Glisan.

The state has also been experiencing above-average temperatures for the last month. Farmers in areas affected by both drought and high temperatures are likely to see diminished crop yields, and the heat and dryness could be dangerous for livestock.

Specialists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship are offering a series of webinars starting July 30 that will help farmers plan ahead and manage their drought-stressed crops and livestock. The weekly webinars are meant to answer any questions participants may have, provide weather and drought updates and give updates on shortages and yield estimates.

Iowa farmers affected by recent storms and flooding


Nick Fetty | July 3, 2014

Flooded field in Polk County, Iowa Photo by cliff yates; flickr
Flooded field in Polk County, Iowa in 2008
Photo by cliff yates; flickr

Recent storms and flooding has damaged crops and other property for farmers in western Iowa and neighboring states.

June’s average rainfall was 9.61 inches, roughly an inch less than July during the flood of 1993,  while water levels seen on fields has been compared to 2008 levels. Roughly $15 million has been estimated for road, bridge, and building damages caused by recent flooding which does not include damage estimates for crops. This comes on the heels of farmers planting  “the largest soybean crop on record,” an 11 percent increase compared to last year.

Iowa State University offers information for dealing with flood-damaged crops.

Western Iowa experiences natural gas leak


Photo by Bill Roehl, Flickr

Last weekend a natural gas pipeline leaked near the Missouri River floodplain in Monona County.

Read more from NCNewsPress.com:

 A pipeline carrying natural gasoline developed a leak over the weekend, with the potential to lose about 140,000 gallons of gasoline in the Missouri River floodplain southwest of Onawa. Continue reading

Iowa Flood Center to learn from Western Iowa flooding


Photo by Denise Krebs, Flickr

Researchers at the Iowa Flood Center see the flooding on the western Iowa border as an opportunity to learn more and prevent future floods.

Read the University of Iowa News release below:

As floodwaters on the Missouri River move relentlessly toward Iowa’s western border, scientists at the Iowa Flood Center (IFC) are making plans to study the water’s movements. Most of the western edge of the state faces the threat of flooding from the Missouri in the days and weeks ahead.

Iowa Flood Center Director Witold Krajewski says the IFC is planning to take aerial photographs of the flooded areas this week, collaborating with the University of Iowa’s Operator Performance Laboratory (OPL), which will fly one of its instrumented aircraft, a Beechcraft A-36 Bonanza, to conduct the photography sessions. The high-resolution photography, combined with statewide LiDAR (laser radar) data already available, will allow researchers to delineate the boundaries of inundated areas and compare these with existing floodplain maps. The improved maps will help Iowans know what to expect during future floods.

“We hope to take the photos at the peak stage of the flood,” Krajewski says. “The results will be extremely valuable as we continue to develop floodplain maps, which are useful for planners and property owners.” Continue reading