Dr. Justin Glisan

Dr. Justin Glisan

(KMAland) -- The U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday showed pockets of drought continuing in parts of northwest Iowa, while the majority of the state isn’t experiencing any type of drought intensity.

Iowa State Climatologist Dr. Justin Glisan says west-central Iowa has seen improvement since the winter in regard to dry conditions. The state’s melting snowpack coupled with recent timely rain showers has led to a decrease in the state’s drought coverage area.

“We didn’t see any improvement from last week’s map,” Glisan said. “We were what we call status quo. We were at 41% of coverage from D0 – the abnormally dry category – all the way to D3 – the extreme drought category – which we see in northwestern Iowa. It’s been persistent in northwest Iowa over the last several months. If we look at precipitation deficits going back to last year, anywhere from 8-16 inches below average in western Iowa. As I have mentioned, we have seen improvement in western Iowa and that’s much to the benefit of that snowpack melt, but also the rainfalls we’ve seen over the last several weeks.”

Glisan notes farmers were concerned during the winter about subsoil conditions for the spring planting season. Here in mid-April, farmers have started putting the crop in the ground and Glisan provides an update on how the subsoil profiles are doing.

“If we look at last year coming into the growing season, we were at near-capacity subsoil moisture profiles,” Glisan said. “Those actually held us over as we did start to dry out mid-May into mid-June as we had a lot of warm, low relative humidity and windy days. With those conditions, we started to see topsoil and subsoil dry as the crop started the process of growing and getting out of the ground. This year, we were in the 30th percentile or below in western Iowa getting into spring. If we use the sponge analogy, anywhere from 60-70% capacity within the subsoil profile, so lots of room for infiltration of any moisture that we would get.”

To view this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor, click here. Glisan’s full video interview can be watched below.

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