Iowa has gone through droughts before. In the 1950’s the dry period stretched 6 years, and in 1930 it lingered for twelve. The State Climatologist said the state is not at that point yet, but after 18-months of below average rainfall it could be on the way.
“We`re just so dry, it’s hard to get things going,” said Harry Hillaker, the State Climatologist, “we really need some kind of strong storm system to come through and kind of shake things up.”
With Iowa heading into some of the usually driest months of the year, that appears unlikely. And if this dry weather keeps up, by next spring the situation could go from drought to disaster.
“With things warming up things can start to go really downhill pretty quickly,” said Hillaker.
“As I talk to farmers they`re nervous about next year. We know it can be dry after this year and we know that we only got a crop in those places that we did based on previous year’s water that was already in the soil,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.
Without replenishing rain and snow, Northey explained farmers could be in trouble.
Agriculture isn’t the only concern: Hillaker said the big worry now is the state’s water resources.
Northey said there has been some discussion both in and out of state government about how to battle such issues if things get worse, “we’ve heard some cities look at reducing the amount of water being used, we’ve talked about whether there ought to be wells dug in other areas,” said Northey.
Hillaker says northwest Iowa is the biggest worry. That area of the state had a very dry fall, and winter and spring is often drier than the rest of Iowa.