Pella Chronicle

February 28, 2013

Iowa drought unchanged in February

MATT MILNER
CNHI

OTTUMWA — Iowa's drought situation will end the month more or less the way it began, despite several significant winter storms.

The entire state remains in drought in one form or another. Less than 0.03 percent of Iowa is in the abnormally dry stage, the lowest tracked by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Most of the state (54.35 percent) is in severe drought.

That's not the case for southeastern Iowa, though. Southeast Iowa is in moderate drought. It's not much comfort for farmers, but things are not as bad as in northwestern Iowa, where areas remain under exceptional drought conditions.

February's snowfall has done little to recharge soil moisture levels. Frozen ground absorbs little moisture. So having a blanket of snow means the ground is surrounded by water it can't use.

But that could change in the coming weeks. Average temperatures in southern Iowa are up to 40 degree highs. While those haven't been hit routinely yet, the warming trend with spring will continue.

As that takes place, the ground will open up to moisture. There's no guarantee of continuing precipitation, but at least the soil will be better positioned to take advantage of what falls.