DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO) — For the last three years, most of the state of Iowa has been under some sort of drought. However, recent rains have both farmers and experts optimistic that the drought may be coming to an end.
In recent weeks, Iowans have seen a sight they haven’t been all that familiar with over the last few years: rising river levels. Rains in late February and through the month of March have brought rivers up, but elevated river levels alone aren’t necessarily the best gauge of the state’s drought status. Justin Glisan, State Climatologist for Iowa, notes that record snowpack over Wisconsin and Minnesota are partly to blame for elevated rivers.
So while snowpack in our northern neighbors is part of the reason river levels are up, the overall trend is still a good one for drought relief. The months of December, January, and February made up the fourth wettest winter on record in Des Moines. February alone was the 11th wettest on record.
Drought will likely linger longer in western Iowa. Curtis Riganti, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center, said precipitation deficits are the worst in the west, so it will take more precipitation to make up those deficits.
Current trends are positive, but it will take more rain over the next several months to end the drought. Riganti said a large amount of precipitation falling over a week or several weeks is able to soak into soils and adequately replenish streams. Likewise, Glisan feels it will take several months of above average precipitation to really put a dent in the precipitation deficits.
Overall though, experts agree we’re on the right track, especially with a wet and cool spring and summer in the forecast.