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Water Summary Update: January precipitation, temperatures higher than average

  • 2/4/2021 11:44:00 AM
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DES MOINES — While January is usually the driest month of the year, last month saw above-normal precipitation and above-normal temperatures across the state, according to the latest Water Summary Update.

Temperatures averaged 4 degrees above normal for the month, with 1.27 inches of precipitation, 0.35 inches above normal. However, abnormal dryness and drought conditions remained generally unchanged through January. Under the snow, the shallow soils are dry enough that there is the potential for drought issues later this spring.

"Despite the abundance of snow in January, there is concern over dry soils in western parts of the state,” said Tim Hall, DNR’s coordinator of hydrology resources. “A dry spring could be problematic for parts of the state. A virtual meeting is planned for March 4 to discuss conditions in more detail.”

Staff from the Iowa DNR, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Weather Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey will provide current information and projections for potential drought conditions in Iowa at the meeting, to be held online from 1 to 3 p.m. Additional meeting information is available at

Temperatures in January were unseasonably warm, on average 23.6 degrees or 4.2 degrees above normal. Northwestern Iowa experienced the warmest conditions, where positive departures of up to seven degrees were reported in the monthly averages. Stations in eastern Iowa reported average temperatures one to three degrees warmer than normal.

Streamflow conditions across most of the state remain normal. Flows in the Des Moines River basin continue to be below normal. 

For a thorough review of Iowa’s water resource trends, go to

The report is prepared by technical staff from Iowa DNR, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, IIHR—Hydroscience and Engineering, and the U.S. Geological Survey, in collaboration with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department.