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Water Summary Update: Drought conditions persist despite increased December rainfall

  • 1/11/2024 4:14:00 PM
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DES MOINES -- Despite above-normal rainfall in December, overall conditions at the end of 2023 remain dry, according to the latest Water Summary Update.

December saw 1.79 inches of precipitation, or 0.42 inches above normal. This marks only the fourth month of 2023 of above-average precipitation.

Iowa ended the year with a statewide average total of only 26.82 inches of precipitation, 8.73 inches below normal. Over the last three years, some locations in east central Iowa have seen rainfall deficits of nearly 25 inches. 

At the beginning of 2024, Iowa’s Drought Plan is showing some improvement and stabilization of drought conditions, with northwest Iowa showing the best overall conditions in the state. Areas in northern, central and northeast Iowa saw conditions improve, but maintain a drought watch designation. The southern half of the state remains in a drought warning, but conditions are not deteriorating. Increased precipitation during the early part of winter should continue to improve conditions in those regions.  

“The wet weather of December and early January is encouraging,” said Tim Hall, the DNR’s Hydrology Resources Coordinator. “Nearly all of Iowa is in some form of drought or dryness, but the wetter than normal December along with the current wetter than normal start to January is moving conditions in the right direction. Frozen soils and winter weather tend to keep drought conditions from changing much, but we are heading in the direction to improve conditions in the early spring.”

Winter months are normally the driest months for Iowa, but continued above-normal precipitation, whether rain or snow, will likely help improve drought conditions in the state. 

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.