June 14, 2013

This spring has been wet, and though it didn't break any records, state climatologist Harry Hillaker said most of Iowa has actually gotten more rain so far this year than it did in 2008.

The steady rainfall over the past month and unseasonably cool temperatures have caused problems for farmers - but may end up helping in the long run.

"Differences that made flooding a lot worse in 2008 than we've had so far this year is that spring of 2008 was preceded by a long, cold winter where we had snow cover basically persisting on the ground all winter long and all that stored moisture melting finally, added a lot to the river flows," Hillaker said. "And 2008 was preceded by very wet year in 2007, so things were already saturated going into the year."

Though the drought caused problems of its own, it actually helped prepare the soil for a wet spring.

"Obviously this year we're coming off a drought, so there's plenty of room for some moisture there for awhile at least, although things are pretty well saturated by now," Hillaker said.

As of press time today, City of Carroll has recorded 1.71 inches of precipitation for June, which indicates a return to normalcy for Iowa spring weather.

"2008 kind of comes up as a good analogue to look at," Hillaker said. "In 2008 the worst flooding was actually going on right about now, and the next couple days - planting and such was greatly delayed that year as well. ... But after that, starting about the second half of June, we just had almost perfect weather after that - seasonal temperatures, seasonal rainfall - and ended up having an extremely good crop year."

"On the other hand in 1993 - the other big, widespread flood year - where things just kept getting wetter as the season went on and was one of our worst crop years ever. So we've got examples going both ways," Hillaker said.

For the first time in weeks, farmers have had a few warm, dry days to finish their planting.

"On the shorter term, it looks like we will be having somewhat of a break," Hillaker said. "It's going to be much warmer this coming week, which will help dry things out, and the rainfall doesn't look to be quite as substantial as far as what's expected so hopefully this will be the start of a different pattern but time will tell on that one."