2013 Is Wettest Spring On Record In Iowa

Average statewide rainfall tops 16.6 inches this spring, the most for March, April and May in 141 years.

Published on: May 29, 2013

This spring is the wettest on record in Iowa. The statewide average rainfall of 16.6 inches is the most rain that has fallen during the three-month period of March, April and May in the 141 year history of weather recordkeeping for the state. That's what state climatologist Harry Hillaker announced on May 29--and there were still two more days left in the month!

The rainfall has been spread out and has come in different "events" this spring. Hillaker says the previous major floods in recent years in Iowa have typically followed wet years, and since it's been dry in Iowa the past couple of years, that might help matters this year. However, the chance of a major flood occurring is still a possibility this year, he notes. Iowa's record amount of rain this spring has helped replenish Iowa's dry soils, re-fill rivers, and is now benefiting thirsty aquifers, streams and lakes in western Iowa.

IOWA STILL BEHIND ON PLANTING: Farmers whose crops withered in last years drought are now being kept from finishing planting the 2013 crop because of too much water in fields. Iowa farmers managed to get 85% of the states corn planted by May 26, 2013. Normally 98% would be planted by that date. This photo was taken May 27 along highway 163 near Ottumwa in southeast Iowa.
IOWA STILL BEHIND ON PLANTING: Farmers whose crops withered in last year's drought are now being kept from finishing planting the 2013 crop because of too much water in fields. Iowa farmers managed to get 85% of the state's corn planted by May 26, 2013. Normally 98% would be planted by that date. This photo was taken May 27 along highway 163 near Ottumwa in southeast Iowa.

"Farmers whose crops withered in last year's drought are now being kept from finishing planting their 2013 crop because of too much water in the fields," observes Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. Iowa farmers are still behind on planting, although they managed to get 85% of the state's 2013 corn crop in the ground by May 26, according to the weekly survey conducted by the Iowa office of USDA's National Ag Statistics Service in Des Moines. In a normal year, 98% of the state's crop would be planted by now.

Iowa has 85% of its 2013 corn acreage planted as of May 26; typically 98% would be planted by that date

"The wet weather this spring continues to slow planting progress as farmers remain well behind the 5-year average for both corn and soybean planting," Northey adds.  "It will likely take several days of dry weather for fields to dry out enough for farmers to resume planting."~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

On average farmers in Iowa got only two days in the field this past week. The statewide average rain of 2.3 inches for the week ending May 26 was more than double the normal average for that week. Flash flood warnings were issued in many locations in Iowa over the Memorial Day weekend.

This latest weekly Iowa Crops & Weather survey report was released Tuesday, May 28. That's a day later than the usual release date--due to the Memorial Day holiday on May 27. The report shows 54% of Iowa's corn crop was emerged from the ground as of May 26, compared to a normal of 81% for that time of year based on the 5-year average.

Soybean planting also lagging as rain continues to bog down fieldwork in Iowa

Soybean planting is also running behind schedule as farmers have had a cold, wet spring in 2013. Steady rain the past week has soaked the ground in many places and has flooded some fields, notes Hillaker. The survey shows 40% of Iowa's 2013 soybean crop was planted as of May 26, compared to 83% normally completed at this time. The survey also shows 8% of the state's 2013 soybean crop was emerged as of May 26, lagging the usual 39% that is emerged at that time.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

The complete weekly Iowa Crops & Weather report is available on the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship's website or on USDA's site. The report summary follows here.

Flooding and soil erosion were reported in many areas of Iowa this past week

CROP REPORT: Dry conditions early in the week ending May 26, 2013 permitted Iowa farmers to make progress planting crops, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service office in Des Moines. As the week continued, rainfall across much of Iowa brought a halt to field activities. There was a wide range of days suitable for fieldwork across Iowa, with North Central Iowa having less than one day suitable, and Southeast Iowa having 4 days suitable. Statewide there was an average of 2.3 days suitable for fieldwork during the week.

Flooding and soil erosion were reported in many areas of the state. Farmers were concerned about standing water after precipitation received during the weekend. Topsoil moisture levels rated zero percent very short, 1% short, 45% adequate and 54% surplus. This is the highest surplus rating for topsoil moisture conditions since June 2010. Subsoil moisture levels rated 1% very short, 7% short, 63% adequate and 29% surplus.

Topsoil moisture rates 45% adequate and 54% surplus, the best since June 2010

As of May 26, the latest weekly survey shows 85% of Iowa's corn acreage had been planted, behind the 5-year average of 98%. Also, 54% of the state's corn crop was emerged, well behind last year's 93% and the normal 81%. Soybean planting was 40% complete, behind last year's 95% and the 5-year average of 83%. Also, 8% of Iowa's 2013 soybean crop had emerged as of May 26. Oat emergence was nearing completion, with 92% of the crop emerged. Oat condition was rated 1% very poor, 4% poor, 29% fair, 57% good and 9% excellent.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

Pasture and range conditions rated 2% very poor, 9% poor, 28% fair, 47% good and 14% excellent. It was reported some pastures along streams and rivers had flooded with the recent rains.

IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY—For week ending May 26, 2013

By Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship

The past reporting week began with above normal temperatures and widespread rainfall Sunday (May 19) afternoon into Sunday night. Very heavy rain fell over much of Mitchell County with a 5.10 inch daily total at Saint Ansgar. Warm weather continued into Monday (May 20) with scattered thunderstorms over the northeast two-thirds of the state during the evening hours. A transition to cooler weather began on Tuesday (May 21) with light rain spreading into northwest Iowa. Cloudy and damp weather was the rule for much of the period from Wednesday through the weekend. Light to moderate rain fell statewide on Wednesday and lingered into Thursday morning over the far east. Thunderstorms brought rain statewide from late Friday through Saturday (May 25) morning.

Statewide average precipitation was 2.34 inches, more than double weekly normal of 1.05 inches

Another heavier round of storms passed through Iowa from late Saturday through Sunday (May 26) morning. Torrential rain fell over northwest Iowa early Sunday morning from Lyon County southeast to Cherokee County and also over central Iowa from the Marshall County southeast to Keokuk County. Still more heavy rain fell later Sunday into Monday in much the same areas but this next event will be included in next week's summary. Weekly rain totals varied from 0.54 inches at Beaconsfield in Ringgold County to 9.06 inches at Grinnell. The statewide average for precipitation was 2.34 inches--or more than double the weekly normal of 1.05 inches.

Temperature extremes varied from Monday (May 20) afternoon highs of 82 degrees at Dubuque Lock & Dam and Iowa City to Friday morning lows of 35 degrees at Elkader and Cresco. Temperatures for the week as a whole varied from one degree below normal in the southwest to five degrees below normal in the northwest with a statewide average of 3.5 degrees below normal.