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Drought watch in place with below normal rainfall in May

  • 6/8/2023 3:06:00 PM
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DES MOINES - The state of Iowa faced a dry May with only 2.54 inches of rainfall, which is just over half of its normal rainfall for the month. This lack of rainfall has led to deteriorating conditions in soil moisture and stream flows across the state. Southwest Iowa has been hit the hardest with less than two inches of rain, which is only 35 percent of expected May precipitation. As a result, Iowa's Drought Regions have been rated as "Drought Watch", indicating that at least three indicators in the Iowa Drought Plan call for that designation. The US Drought Monitor also shows that nearly all of Iowa is facing some form of dryness or drought.

According to Tim Hall, Iowa Department of Natural Resources coordinator of hydrology resources, this rapid intensification of existing drought is consistent with "Rapid Onset Drought" or flash drought. This phenomenon is driven by very low rainfall in May, combined with warmer than normal temperatures. However, there is still hope as June is generally the wettest month in Iowa. If the state experiences normal June rainfall, the downward trend in conditions could be turned around. 

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

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.