Rain and snow help erase drought
May 6th, 2013 by Ric Hanson
The recent rain and snow have played havoc with outdoor events and activities, but all the moisture has a positive side. Tim Hall of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says moisture of any type is important after the severe drought that hit the state. “This is exactly what we’d hoped for, is sustained long-term, better then normal precipitation during the months when we typically get a lot of rain anyway. And March and April and May are pretty wet months, and we are getting more than normal right in those months,” Hall says.
April set a new statewide average for rainfall at six-point-five-two inches (6.52), with normal rainfall for April at three-point-five-one (3.51) inches. A new drought map comes out Thursday, and Hall expects to see the areas with severe problems continuing to shrink. “We’re making some real improvement in the drought conditions in the state, and I think we’re gonna continue to see improvement in the near future,” according to Hall. Not only has the amount of rain increased, it is coming at a time where the frost is out of the ground — so the rain that falls or snow that melts — sinks into the soil.
“In fact our groundwater folks who work with a lot of the water utilities in northwest Iowa are starting to see that reflected in the water levels in some of the wells that are used to supply drinking water,” Hall says. “So we’re starting to see some gradual recovery in the levels in wells, which is indicative of the water making it down into the ground where it is going to do some real good.” He says those areas that were not hit as hard by the drought are building up some reserve with the rains that’re falling now. Hall says that makes it less likely they’ll get back into a water shortage.
“I think if the rainfall stopped for a couple of weeks, which it probable will — I mean we go through periods where we don’t get rain for a couple three weeks — the real danger is if that rainfall slows down or stops and we get excessively hot where the demand for water also starts to go up in conjunction with the rain going down,” Hall says. Hall says farmers are probably really hoping the rain will stop for awhile so they can get into the fields — but he says even they will be happy that all the moisture is replenishing the groundwater.