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Drought area shrinking, but western Iowa still dealing with dry soil

Just 1.5 percent of the state remains in extreme drought

The latest Iowa drought monitor. The yellow indicates abnormally dry soil; light orange is moderate drought; dark orange
The latest Iowa drought monitor. The yellow indicates abnormally dry soil; light orange is moderate drought; dark orange means severe drought; and red indicates extreme drought. (map via Iowa Drought Monitor)

Even before the heaviest rains this week, drought conditions had already subsided in eastern Iowa. Western Iowa has also improved, but is still dealing with dry soil as planting season arrives.

A new USDA drought monitor released Thursday shows the eastern third of the state, 34.7% of Iowa, is now in normal moisture levels. Thatís compared to 16.8% of the state last week. This latest report did not include rains from Tuesday and Wednesday, which caused flash flooding in portions of southeast Iowa.

Western Iowa remains in drought conditions, but is finally seeing some relief as well. A small portion of Plymouth and Woodbury counties remain in extreme drought conditions, representing 1.5% of the state. Thatís much smaller than the 20.7% of the state in extreme drought last week. The percentage of the state in dry, moderate or severe drought conditions also shrank considerably in the past week.

Drought conditions have also steadily improved in the 9 state Midwest region that includes Iowa. 67% of the area is now out of drought conditions, up from 60% last week and 30% 3 months ago.The worst drought region remains the high plains, which run from North Dakota to Kansas and Colorado. 92.9% of that region is still in some level of drought, 44.3% of the region is in an extreme drought.

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