Widespread rainfall last week in the southeastern half of the state significantly reduced drought conditions, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor report.
Most of that area had at least 2 inches of rain — with a maximum of 4.3 inches — and drought conditions were erased in about 16 percent of the state.
The rainfall reversed about a month’s worth of worsening dryness that had pushed the state’s overall drought to its worst in nine years.
But that rainfall missed portions of northwest Iowa that are among the driest, and areas of severe and extreme drought — the two worst drought designations — slightly expanded.
Nearly two-thirds of Iowa still is suffering from some degree of drought, which the Drought Monitor ranks using four categories: moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional. About 11 percent of the state has extreme drought or worse, in an area that centers on Sioux City at the western border and extends east to Humboldt.
The Drought Monitor makes its weekly assessments based on a variety of weather data, soil-moisture indicators, the movement of surface water and local observations.
This article first appeared in the Iowa Capital Dispatch.