Near Miss of Rain Continues Troubling Trend

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Thursday morning, much of Iowa awoke to the sound of thunder.  Although a nuisance at such an early hour, the rain that comes with those storms was a more than welcomed sight.  But it wasn’t all good news as this morning’s new drought reports shows.  As you can see in the graphic above, much of Iowa remains under dry or drought conditions.  The driest areas, listed as moderate drought conditions, are shaded in brown.

This is the area facing significant deficits of rain over the past few weeks and months.  And this is exactly where our precious and much needed rain did NOT fall.  Storms fired across northern Iowa overnight, producing some heavy rainfall and strong to severe thunderstorm conditions.  But as you can see in the graphic above, this is generally the area in the least amount of need.  Now don’t get us wrong, northern Iowa could surely use the rain as well, but that’s little solace to those in southern and western Iowa still broiling in the hot and dry conditions.

To be clear, this is no where near as serious as last year.  But still, any drought conditions can not only have an impact on farmers, but also wildlife and water supplies.  There are no indication that water supplies are running low in any parts of Iowa, but it’s something to be monitored if these conditions persist.  Farmers will likely still be able to harvest their crop, but after a spring of heavy rains and a summer of drought, yields could take a significant hit.

Bottom line, Iowa, in the grand scheme of things has been getting what it needs.  While the rainfall deficits of 2013 are nothing when compared to 2012, the impacts are still there.  The reason for this is the same concern raised when it comes to climate change.  It’s not that Iowa will see anything life changing like turning into a desert.  It’s that the changes to the global climate are having an impact on larger scale weather patterns. 

What that means is that Iowans can see more extremes than they’re used to.  In five years Iowa has seen at least two years of significant drought and many episodes of river and flash flooding, most notably the 2008 catastrophe that affected hundreds of communities.  These extremes we are seeing both in hot and cold temperatures, heavy or no rain for weeks, is something that could become the new normal.  It’s a troubling sign of things to come as weather patterns change.

In 2012 we saw a once in a generation drought.  In 2008 we experienced a once in a millennia flood.  But as these extremes continue, the dramatic titles could fade away, and events like our floods and droughts may go from once in a lifetime to just… once in a while.

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