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All of Iowa faces abnormally dry or drought conditions

A map of the state of Iowa, entirely covered in colors varying from yellow to red. It signifies the abnormally dry conditions across the state.
Brad Pugh
U.S. Drought Monitor
The Iowa Drought monitor shows all of Iowa under dry conditions.

The Iowa Drought Monitor shows the entire state under abnormally dry or drought conditions.

The last time dry conditions were so pervasive was more than nine years ago, in 2013. Dry conditions have been a struggle for most of the year, with impacted areas fluctuating across the state.

But, the director of the Midwest Climate Hubin Ames, Dennis Todey said the state has seen a steady expansion of drought over the last two months. He said relief isn’t likely soon, as Iowa forecasts don’t show much precipitation in the near future.

“We are entering a climatologically drier time of year,” Todey said. “So we don't expect as much rainfall overall anyway.”

More than half of the state is classified under moderate drought. Another third of the state faces severe to extreme drought.

Northwest Iowa remains hit the hardest, with extreme drought conditions growing in the area. A small sliver of Woodbury County is even under exceptional drought – the monitor’s most severe classification.

From a statistical standpoint, Todey said extreme drought should occur once every 20 years. Yet, Iowa faced similar conditions in 2012, only a decade ago.

Todey said these pervasive conditions come with fire risks.

“We're dry enough that people do have to be careful with their combines or in fields or dry grasses about fires that get kicked off,” he said.

A red flag warning was issued by the National Weather Service on Thursday for portions of western and central Iowa. Officials said any fires that develop will spread rapidly.

This same time last year, three fourths of the state was abnormally dry or worse.

Kendall was Iowa Public Radio’s western Iowa reporter based in Sioux City, IA until Jan. 20, 2023.