February 29, 2024

Iowa saw near-record snowfall in January, with Des Moines receiving 27.2 inches, the second-most on record for the month. The snow and above-average precipitation in October and December have helped improve drought conditions across most of the state, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR’s Water Summary Update indicates that the precipitation in January was double the normal amount, which has significantly improved drought conditions.

The warm-up following the snowfall has allowed the snowmelt to soak into the ground, with minimal flooding conditions reported. The DNR’s hydrology resources coordinator says that the lack of deeply frozen soil has facilitated this process and is optimistic about the improving conditions as the state moves into spring.

The Water Summary Update also shows that moisture conditions in northwest and central Iowa are normal, while the rest of the state remains under a drought watch, albeit with some improvement. The U.S. Drought Monitor has also shown marked improvement.

The DNR expects continued above-normal precipitation to further improve the conditions as the state transitions from winter to spring. This is a positive trend after Iowa endured a prolonged drought for 188 weeks, the longest since the 1950s. Despite this, the recent increase in precipitation has provided hope for a better outlook as the state moves into spring.

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