WeatherWeather Blog


For the first time since summer 2022, eastern Nebraska and western Iowa are drought-free

A look at the journey and its effects on the region
Posted at 1:32 PM, Jun 20, 2024

OMAHA, Neb (KMTV) -- — Throughout our history, drought has been a theme in Nebraska and Iowa history. One of the most infamous periods in Nebraska's history, the Dust Bowl, was due to a big drought. Most recently, many farmers remember the drought of 2012, the most significant drought of the 21st century.

Beginning in the summer of 2022, drought returned to eastern Nebraska in a big way and remained around in some capacity for almost two years. It began in northeast Nebraska, slowly spreading southward to encompass much of eastern Nebraska by the summer of 2023. Into 2024, the drought spread into western Iowa, albeit not as extreme as eastern Nebraska. As we approached the spring of 2024, the outlook looked somewhat bleak. Then it rained...

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Drought Monitor from June 27, 2023. The greatest extent of the exceptional drought in eastern Nebraska.

And boy did it rain, much of Nebraska and Iowa experienced one of the wettest Mays in our history with some spots reaching over 10" of water in one month. All this rain brought the benefit of drastically reducing the drought across the two states. Now, with the latest drought report from the US Drought Monitor, all of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa are drought-free!

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Drought Monitor from June 18, 2024. The drought is gone from eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.

The latest drought monitor shows a yellow 1/5 scale, or "abnormally dry". This is technically not a drought category, but it denotes a region either 1.) about to enter a drought, or 2.) recovering from one. Outside of those patches in southeast Nebraska or near Maryville, the rest of the area is in no drought conditions! Below is a series of images showing the progression of the drought from various counties:

So, where do we go from here? While we are out of the woods for now, there is a chance that drought may redevelop in parts of the area. The latest three-month outlook from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) for July, August, and September shows a higher probability of drier-than-average conditions settling in. While this does not mean it will not rain for the rest of the summer, it might mean that the wetter periods we have seen through Spring into June will begin to become more sparse.

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Seasonal precipitation outlook from the Climate Prediction Center

This could lead to the redevelopment of drought in some parts of the area. However, given the amount of moisture seen so far, any onset of drought is not expected to become as severe as it was back in 2023. Based on the trends, the seasonal drought outlook looks at the possible redevelopment of drought over southeast Nebraska is likely as we head into summer.

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Seasonal drought outlook expects the return of some drought conditions to southeast Nebraska over the next few months.

It is important to note that these seasonal outlooks are still forecasts and subject to change. For now, enjoy the greenery and good harvests, we have earned it!