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Drought expected to expand throughout Iowa this summer

The sun shines over a field.
Dave Dehetre
Drought is predicted to spread throughout Iowa.

Drought conditions are forecasted to expand throughout the state this summer.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration predicts dry conditions will continue for western Iowa and expand eastward, impacting the majority of the state. Throughout the summer months, Iowans can expect warmer temperatures and lower precipitation.

Forecasters said it’s a continuation of La Niña weather conditions – a climate pattern that induces drier conditions for the Great Plains region. Much of the western region of the U.S. and a portion of western Iowa have long been battling drought. Now, meteorologist Adam Hartman said it’s likely that much of Iowa will develop a similar lack of precipitation.

“Much of what I leaned on was the below normal soil moisture anomalies that are currently in place across the state along with the long term dryness,” said Hartman, who authored the report. “In addition to the fact we are in La Niña.”

The NOAA predicts that drought will begin to spread eastward throughout Iowa.
The NOAA predicts that drought will begin to spread eastward throughout Iowa.

The dry conditions could potentially impact Iowa growers, despite some recent precipitation. Brad Rippey, a meteorologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said the weather’s impact on crops will depend largely on the timing of the heat waves.

U.S. Drought Monitor
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows drought impacting a majority of northwest Iowa, with severe drought in Plymouth, Woodbury and Monona counties.

“Especially since crops are going in a little bit late this year,” he said. “So, if heat and dryness expand at the wrong time, for example, corn and soybeans that could have an effect on some of the summer crops.”

Much of the northwest region of the state is already experiencing abnormally dry conditions or moderate drought. Woodbury, Plymouth and Monona counties are facing severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Rippey said it’s looking like La Niña could potentially persist until next winter – which would make it the third consecutive year of this climate pattern. Meteorologists term this rare extended period of La Niña a “triple dip." It has only happened three times since the 1950s. The last time it occurred was in the late 90s.