OTTUMWA — This week's rains surely put the final nail in the coffin for Iowa's drought, but the surprise for many may be that it ended before the rain arrived.
Drought conditions had ended for most of eastern Iowa by Tuesday, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Small sections of Marion, Monroe and Appanoose counties remained in the abnormally dry category, but that was it. The rest of the reason Is drought-free.
The drought had been retreating from eastern Iowa for some time, with conditions improving as precipitation returned over the winter. About 53 percent of the state remains in drought, but that's down from the prior week's level of nearly 70 percent. And three months ago the entire state was in a drought.
Much of the nation remains in the grip of a severe drought. But over the past year the drought has shifted from the Ohio River valley to the plains. Iowa conditions generally deteriorated from east to west, and now it's improving in the same way.