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January 3, 2013

Iowa begins year with identical drought conditions

OTTUMWA — Iowa began 2013 exactly the same way it ended 2012, at least as far as drought goes.

The U.S. Drought Monitor's reports are released on Thursday and include data gathered up to the previous Tuesday. In the case of this week's report, data was current as of January 1, 2013.

A late December blizzard led to considerable improvement in conditions, but there has been no change since that storm. The portion of the state in severe drought remains at 58.42 percent, exactly the same as in the final report of 2012.

Southeastern Iowa is almost entirely in moderate drought, with only the southwestern corner of Appanoose County in severe drought conditions. The entire state is in at least moderate drought.

The past couple weeks have been cold, which changes the dynamics in play. The ground in Iowa is largely frozen, which limits the amount of moisture that can relieve dry soil conditions. So Iowa is likely looking at starting the spring with a moisture deficit, even if significant snow falls over the winter.

The lack of change in Iowa's status reflects both the regional and national picture. Neither the Midwest as a whole or the contiguous 48 states showed significant changes in the drought picure. More than 60 percent of the nation remains in severe drought or worse.

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