November is being described as "disappointing." It ended with only about half the normal precipitation for Iowa. Preliminary figures show the state had an average of 1.07 inches of rainfall for the month; normally Iowa receives 2.05 inches in November.
For the year to date, as of the end of November, precipitation in 2012 is at 24.74 inches for Iowa, 9.19 inches below normal for the first 11 months of the year, according to Harry Hillaker, state climatologist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship. Iowa normally receives a statewide average of about 35 inches of precipitation annually—or about 34 inches through the end of November.
A wet October had raised optimism that the drought of 2012, Iowa's worst since 1988, might be lifting. The state's October precipitation totaled 3.12 inches, or a half-inch more than normal. That was the greatest precipitation total since May and the first month with above-normal precipitation since April. "But we went back to a dry pattern in November," says Hillaker. "And with the soil due to freeze up for winter soon, that about ends much chance of replenishing soil moisture supplies before this coming spring."
Iowa didn't get the recharge it needed this fall on subsoil moisture supply
As of the end of November, two-thirds of the state's topsoil was deficient of moisture and 94% of the state's subsoil lacked adequate moisture, according to USDA's survey. Since September 1 central Iowa has received 5.97 inches of rain, which is 2.11 inches below the 8.08 inches normally received from September through November.
For months climatologists warned that the state would be in trouble if enough rain didn't come by early December, when freezing temperatures usually set in for the winter. Rainfall and snow melt on frozen ground runs off rather than soaks in. "Soil moisture levels now remain below normal statewide," notes Hillaker. "However, normal early spring rainfall across the eastern one-third of Iowa probably would put soil moisture in good shape by planting time in 2013 in that part of the state.