Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

October 25, 2012

Drought unchanged in southeast Iowa

MATT MILNER
CNHI

OTTUMWA — Southeast Iowa showed little change in the drought conditions in the past week, though rain continued to fall on several days.

Most of southeast Iowa is in the severe drought category, with the nortwestern two-thirds of Marion County and the nortwestern tip of Mahaska County lingering in extreme drought. That's unchanged from the previous week.

Statewide, there are encouraging signs. The area in northwestern Iowa under exceptional drought, the highest category reported by the U.S. Drought Monitor, remained unchanged for the fourth consecutive week. Southwest Iowa saw the biggest improvement compared to last week, with significant improvement in five counties.

The past two weeks have seen significant rain in southeast Iowa. Ottumwa's official measurements show 4.17 inches of rain. Not only is that a sustained period with regular precipitation, it's more than the 2.82 inches of rain the area usually sees in October.

Knoxville's situation is similar. The 3.26 inches of rain so far this month, mostly in the past two weeks, is higher than the October average.

Data released earlier in the week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the rain is helping to recharge soil moisture, a critical consideration as Iowa moves toward winter's freeze. Once the ground freezes, little if any moisture will soak in, leaving deficits to be made up with spring rains.