By Julie Ann Madden
Trying to put up hay that hasn’t been rained on since it was cut has been pretty challenging for area farmers this Spring.
In a June 12 “Water Summary Update,” the Iowa Department of Natural Resources reported western Plymouth County is still suffering a “Moderate Drought” while precipitation between May 28 and June 11 was 126 to 150 percent of normal for Plymouth County.
Stream flow in the county was “above normal” as of 7 a.m., June 12 while most of Plymouth County’s shallow groundwater levels for the last two weeks were normal. However, along the western third of Plymouth County, shallow groundwater levels were “near or at seasonal lows.”
According to National Weather Service – Sioux Falls, S.D., Meteorologist Phil Schumacher, Akron’s average precipitation for the first half of the year (Jan. 1 – June 14) is 12.94 inches, and Akron has had 13.32 inches this year (Jan. 1 – June 14).
Although Akron is a little above normal in precipitation amounts, from a long-term perspective, precipitation hasn’t made up for last summer’s drought, he said. It’s much improved over last year but Akron’s still feeling a lingering effect of last year’s drought.
The overall situation in Iowa is continuing to improve and approaching normal, according to IDNR’s report. While there are some areas of concern for both flooding conditions and for slightly lower than normal groundwater, overall conditions are encouraging. Rainfall over the past several weeks has resulted in significant improvement.
Average precipitation was above normal, and temperatures were below normal for the two-week period, May 30 – June 12, the report stated. As a result, the drought designated area of the state continues to shrink, and is now only about 10 percent of the state. Parts of northwestern Iowa continue to be abnormally dry. A small area along the Missouri River, amounting to less than 1 percent of the state, is designated as “Moderate Drought.” Just three months ago, nearly one-third of Iowa was designated as “Extreme Drought” and over 99 percent of the state was in some form of drought. Numerous records were set for excessive precipitation for the period ending May 31, including those for wettest May, wettest spring and wettest year-to-date.
Temperatures have been unusually low for the past three months with 2013 a close second to 1960 as the coldest spring in 121 years. However, Iowa rapidly transitioned to a more typical summer weather pattern June 11 with this warmer pattern expected to continue for the foreseeable future, concluded the report.