Expert: Drought isn’t going away anytime soon
August 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson
An expert on droughts says the one that’s settled over Iowa and most of the region isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. Michael Hayes, director of the National Drought Mitigation Center, says a big ridge of high pressure has built up over the central U-S, diverting rain elsewhere. Hayes says Iowa’s long-range forecast calls for hot, dry conditions into October. “Maybe there’s some hope beyond that, but it’s a little bit early to say,” Hayes says. “So, that’s not the best news, certainly. Those are expectations. Those outlooks can change and we certainly hope that’s the case.”
Despite withering crops, brown lawns and shallow waterways across Iowa, Hayes says the drought’s affects are not deep yet, because this is a severe one-year event — at least so far. “If this were to extend into a second year or a third year, then we certainly would have more of those concerns,” Hayes says. While some have made comparisons to the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s, Hayes says this drought is most comparable to the 1988 drought. One unusual note, he says the drought which now grips the entire Corn Belt actually began this past winter.
Hayes says, “What’s been interesting about this drought is we had such warm temperatures over the wintertime and in the early spring that a lot of our soil moisture was already depleted and then that just allowed the temperatures to get pretty extreme across a large part of the central U.S.” The National Drought Mitigation Center is based at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.