Iowa drought is now worst in a decade

Extreme drought expanded significantly in northeast Iowa and now includes parts of northeastern Tama County. PHOTO COURTESY OF U.S. DROUGHT MONITOR

Overall dryness in Iowa expanded the last week of August amid unrelenting heat and a lack of rainfall and is now worse than it’s been since March 2013, according to a recent report by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Drought conditions eclipsed their previous worst of this year, which occurred in late June and early July. The final full week in August averaged about 10 degrees above normal in Iowa, and rainfall was about one-fifth of what is normally expected.

Another dry, hot streak was expected to go for days starting last Saturday, with temperatures in some places nearing 100 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

About 80% of the state is in some measure of drought, and about 18% is suffering from extreme drought, the second-to-worst classification of four.

Areas of extreme drought have more than tripled in size recently and mostly in northeast Iowa, where it affects all or parts of about two dozen counties including northeastern Tama County.

This time last year, 40% of the state was suffering from some measure of drought, and 2% was extreme.