Pella Chronicle

July 22, 2013

Drought threatens despite weekend rain

MATT MILNER
Ottumwa Courier

OTTUMWA — OTTUMWA — Drought has crept back into southeast Iowa as the wettest spring in state history has given way to an uncomfortably familiar summer pattern.

Southeast Iowa hasn't seen the same rain as the rest of the state since April, and it's showing. The U.S. Drought Monitor places all of Wapello, Davis, Appanoose and Monroe counties in the abnormally dry category along with parts of Jefferson, Mahaska, Keokuk and Marion counties. Nearly 20 percent of the state was short enough of recent rainfall to be labeled abnormally dry when the monitor's most recent report came out last week.

A look at the numbers makes the case. Ottumwa was 2.7 inches below normal in June. That's actually worse than in 2012.

July isn't much better. So far, this area is 2.46 inches shy of normal rainfall. That's on pace to match last July's deficit.

Rains Sunday helped, but the totals weren't all that high. Ottumwa officially totaled 0.72 inches of rain. But those numbers vary widely from one area to another since the rain came with thunderstorms. If you got caught in a downpour, you probably got more. Other parts of town reported very little rain well after the first drops fell.

With nine days left in July, there is time for southern Iowa to make up some of the rain deficit. But it's far from certain that will happen. The best opportunity appears to be late this week and early next week, when the National Weather Service puts Ottumwa at a 30 percent chance of rain each day. That chance begins Thursday.