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iowa weather outlook

By Heather Carlile-Thorstensen

hcarlile@agrinews.com

Anything’s possible for weather in Iowa this summer.

The state’s July average rainfall is 4.25 inches and the average temperature is 74 degrees F.

The National Weather Service is predicting above-normal rainfall for eastern Iowa and below-normal temperatures for the whole state in the next 30 days.

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The 60-percent chance forecast isn’t favorable for surviving crops.

"Given how delayed some of the crops have to be, they’re going to need all the heat they can get to fully mature," said Harry Hillaker, state climatologist for the Iowa Department of Agriculture.

Looking back to Iowa’s 10 wettest Junes, Hillaker found half were followed by a wetter-than-normal July while the other half were trailed by a dryer-than normal month.

"There’s not really a strong pattern there," said Hillaker.

History shows that wet Junes can be followed by drought, but his guess is that Iowa will be out of harm’s way. Usually drought conditions start in one area and expand to others, but nearest droughts currently are as far away as southwestern Kansas, Texas and central Tennessee.

"In this case, not only is Iowa very wet right now but virtually every state adjoining us is very wet right now," Hillaker said.

NWS’s 90-day forecast for July, August and Septemember predicts near normal temperatures and rainfall.

Iowans have two positive things going for them that they didn’t have in 1993, a year that had similar weather conditions and flooding, Hillaker said.

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The first is that there was a nice dry period in mid-May that allowed most of the crops to be planted.

"Some of those have flooded out since then, but the majority of crops did get planted in a timely manner," he said. "In 1993, that didn’t happen."

The second positive is that this June is warmer than the average monthly temperature. At 71 degrees F, it’s only one degree warmer, but compared to 1993 it’s four degrees warmer.

"The crops that aren’t flooded out should be developing pretty rapidly because of those normal temperatures," he said. "In 1993...not only did things get planted late and flooded out but what was planted never developed the way you expected."

The persistent weather pattern that brought heavy rain, hail, wind and tornadoes to Iowa this June caused 17 storm-related deaths.

From May 25 to June 15 the statewide average rainfall was 9.81 inches. Five inches alone fell June 2 through June 8.

"Just in general we’ve had six consecutive colder than normal months, December through May," Hillaker said.

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