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DES MOINES — Last year was the second dry year in a row for Iowa. Over the previous 24 months parts of central and west central Iowa received a foot less than normal moisture. Both streamflow and groundwater conditions were of concern throughout much of 2021, but the third wettest October on record helped to end the year with near normal conditions.
"Looking back on 2021, the wet October we experienced in Iowa really helped set us up for better spring conditions,” said Tim Hall, DNR’s coordinator of hydrology resources. “We would have much more concern for spring 2022 conditions without those October rains. Dryness could still be an issue as we move from winter to spring of 2022, and the DNR and our partners continue to watch conditions closely."
Iowa began 2021 in drought conditions, especially in the northwest part of the state. Those early 2021 drought conditions held mostly steady through the winter months and into the spring, and then peaked in August. Iowa ended 2021 with roughly half of the state free from any dryness or drought, and about 12 percent of the state with D1-Moderate Drought conditions.
Based on 149 years of statewide observations, Iowa experienced its 57th driest year on record in 2021 with a statewide average precipitation accumulation of just over 31 inches, nearly 4.5 inches below normal. Precipitation was below normal for eight of the 12 months of the year and was significantly below normal during late spring and early summer. Iowa temperatures averaged 50.0 degrees or 1.6 degrees above normal ranking 2021 as the 16th warmest year on record. A warmer year was last reported in 2016.
For a thorough review of Iowa’s water resource trends, go to www.iowadnr.gov/watersummaryupdate.
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.