2012 vs 2018 Droughts

Another heat wave is tracking into Iowa this weekend which may have you wondering how many days we’ve seen 90° or higher?

Waterloo typically reaches 90° or higher around 21 days a year. This is based on the average from 1895 to 2018. Below shows how many times Waterloo has hit 90° or more in the past 10 years, including this year.

2008 0 1 3 0 0 4
2009 0 3 0 1 0 4
2010 2 0 3 5 0 10
2011 1 5 10 3 1 20
2012 2 7 21 10 3 43
2013 1 1 9 6 3 20
2014 0 0 1 3 1 5
2015 0 1 2 1 3 7
2016 0 5 1 1 1 8
2017 0 8 3 0 6 17
2018 4 7 3 14

It’s obvious to note that 2012 was an extreme year. Most of July saw 90°+ days , 5 days were 100° or more. 2012 was also the year we saw a flash drought develop across the Midwest. A flash drought is when an area sees high temperatures and rapidly decreasing soil moisture in a short amount of time. Many farmers compared the drought to the one that happened in the 80s. July 2012 only recorded 0.76″ of rain (normal: 4.91″). Below is the extent of the drought in 2012.

100% of the state was in severe drought conditions and 30.75% of that was in extreme drought conditions. To compare to 2018, 11% of the state in currently in moderate drought conditions and 0.84% is in extreme drought conditions.

Unfortunately, little rain is in the forecast over the next 7 days along with warmer than normal temperatures. The drought will likely continue to expand across southern Iowa.


Posted under Climate, Drought

This post was written by Schnack on August 3, 2018

Rain and Drought

Thursday night heavy rain fell across northeast Iowa. Not an area that needs the rain. The map above shows the rainfall estimate for the month of May through the 4th and on top of that is the Drought Monitor. The Drought Monitor shows the area that is dry and needs the rain the most.  Not much has fallen in a good portion of southeast Iowa…where it needs it the most. Here is a list of monthly rain totals for some locations across the state.

Burlington 0.90″
Cedar Rapids 0.92″
Dubuque 1.18″
Des Moines 1.81″
Estherville 1.27″
Iowa City 1.72″
Lamoni 1.12″
Marshalltown 1.96″
Mason City 3.25″
Ottumwa 0.43″
Sioux City 1.22″
Waterloo 0.98″


Posted under Drought, Precipitation Totals

This post was written by Schnack on May 4, 2018

Dry Conditions Across Eastern Iowa

We’ve had quite a stretch of dry weather across eastern Iowa.  October and November were generally dry months, and now that we are about halfway through December, we’ve only had a few hundredths of an inch of precipitation.  Parts of the KWWL viewing area are in the Abnormally Dry to Moderate Drought category.

The Weather Prediction Center’s 7 day precipitation forecast does not paint much moisture for Iowa.  However, we are watching the potential for rain and/or snow late next week.  It’s still too early in the forecast for details.


Posted under Drought, Forecast Discussion

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on December 14, 2017

Really Dry or Really Wet

The total rainfall for the last three months has gone back and forth. September was really dry. October was really wet and now November is going to wind up really dry.

Here are the rain totals for the last three months in Waterloo.

The chart below shows when and how much rain fell during the above mentioned months.

The latest drought monitor from last week shows there are still some dry locations across parts of Iowa.



Posted under Drought, Precipitation Totals

This post was written by Schnack on November 22, 2017

Weather’s effect on Foliage

It is that time of the year again. Temperatures are cooler. Days are shorter. It is also a little more colorful, as well.

This year, leaves across eastern Iowa peaked a little later than normal.

There are many reasons why this happened. It all boils down to one major factor: the weather. Our weather patterns in September and October influence just how bright the colors of the trees get…and when they reach their peak for viewing.

In a period of drought, leaves may fall before developing any color. Strong winds (from tropical storms, thunderstorms or a potent front) may also leave the trees to the same fate.

Above normal temperatures postpone the fall color and subsequently the leaves falling. Each season’s foliage is different due to the combination of dry and wet days leading up to the time of peak color.

With cooler temperatures, expect more color and then more leaves to rake across the area.

For more information, click here.

To find the latest fall color report, click here.



Posted under Drought, Fall Colors, Photo

This post was written by Rachael Peart on October 23, 2017

Temperatures, Drought Improvement and Elevated Fire Danger


Here is a look at where the weather instruments are located at the Waterloo Airport.

Low temperatures this morning were mainly in the upper 30s to the mid 40s across eastern Iowa and Black Hawk County. The exception was the Waterloo Airport reported a low of 34 degrees.

There are other weather instruments that are available to us in Waterloo and Cedar Falls area. The map below shows those weather stations reported low temperatures between 38-44. These temperatures are more similar to other reports surrounding Black Hawk County. There are certain nights the temperature at the Waterloo airport is much colder than everywhere surrounding it and this morning was one of those times.


The latest Drought Monitor was released this morning and the conditions continue to improve.

The first map below is the Drought Monitor showing a small portion of Iowa now in drought conditions.

The map below shows the Drought Monitor over the amount of rainfall for the month of October. Notice the lowest rain amounts are where we have some dry conditions still.


There was a moderate to high grassland fire danger today, and will be again Friday, across parts of northern Iowa. Winds are forecast to be stronger Friday from the south. Winds will increase in speed Friday night and remain windy Saturday. The rain chance doesn’t move into the eastern part of the state until the afternoon and evening. Use extra caution in the fields Friday and Saturday.

The cropland fire danger index is higher and more widespread today and is expected to be that way for Friday  Saturday until rain Saturday. Please use caution in the fields for the next 48 hours.


National High and Low Temperature  Thursday, October 19, 2017

99 at El Centro NAS, CA
99 at Ocotillo Wells, CA

11 at Bodie State Park, CA


Posted under Drought, Fall Colors, Fire, Temperatures

This post was written by Schnack on October 19, 2017

Improvement in Drought Conditions

The recent rainfall has really put a dent in the drought conditions across the state of Iowa.

The latest US Drought Monitor indicated that 71.33% of Iowa is not experiencing any drought conditions.  That’s an improvement from just 58.80% last week.

More rain is in the forecast Saturday into early Sunday.


Posted under Drought, Precipitation Totals

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on October 19, 2017

Heavy Rain Possible Saturday


After most of the day with a cloudy sky, our western counties saw some sunshine before it set this evening. Here is a look at the sun as it was setting in Cedar Falls. The sky is clear in the western counties of the KWWL viewing area, but most locations are still cloudy. We stay dry tonight under a partly to mostly cloudy sky.



The latest Drought Monitor was released this morning. Due to rain in the last week the conditions are improving. We still need some rain across parts of southern Iowa. The forecast does include southern Iowa with rain and in some locations 2″ are possible. Light rain is forecast Friday afternoon and night. The heavier rain is likely Saturday with thunderstorms. The rain comes to an end Saturday night with sunshine returning Sunday. It will also be much cooler and with a gusty northwest wind at times to 30+ mph.

The map below shows the risk for flash flooding Saturday.

Rain from last Tuesday was not included in Drought Monitor update below. The map is analyzed from rain reports as of 7 AM on Tuesday and then released Thursday morning, every week.

Storms are in the forecast Saturday. There is a slight risk for severe storms from southern Iowa southwest toward Wichita, Kansas. The primary threat would be large hail and high winds during the mid to late afternoon. Any severe storms in eastern Iowa would south and west of Cedar Rapids.




The latest 8-14 day temperature outlook has Iowa with a likely chance of above normal temperatures from Oct 20-26. That takes us to about the end of the month and no cold air.



Ophelia is the 10th hurricane in the Atlantic season…so far.



The Department of the Interior posted this photo, on Twitter, of Mount Moran in the Grand Teton National Park.

National High and Low Temperature Thursday, October 12, 2017

94 at Needles, CA
94 at Augusta, GA

9 at Lakeview, OR


Posted under Drought, Fall Colors, Tropics

This post was written by Schnack on October 12, 2017

Rain numbers and more rain ahead


Throughout the month of September we didn’t get much rain at all in eastern Iowa. Many locations only received less than 1″ of rain during the entire month. Here are the September rain totals:

0.79″ Waterloo
1.02″ Dubuque
0.97″ Cedar Rapids
0.49″ Iowa City

The month of October has been completely different and it is only the 10th. We have had triple the amount of rain in 10 days than we did all of last month. Here are the October rain totals through late this afternoon:

3.25″ Waterloo
3.05″ Dubuque
2.47″ Cedar Rapids
1.61″ Iowa City

The rain should help the drought conditions parts of Iowa. Here is the Drought Monitor released last Thursday morning. The next update will be Thursday morning.



The map below shows the rain estimates by the radar Tuesday.

Here is a list of some rain totals through Tuesday evening:

0.69″ Waterloo
1.46″ Dubuque
1.28″ Cedar Rapids
1.11″ Iowa City


1.82″ Cascade
1.76″ Urbana
1.70″ Swisher
1.66″ Winthrop
1.56″ Monticello
1.40″ Lisbon
1.35″ North Liberty
1.34′ Toledo
1.32″ Hazleton
1.29″ Mt. Vernon
1.28″ Atkins
1.26″ Hiawatha
1.26″ Dyersville
1.23″ Edgewood
1.20″ Lamont
1.20″ Center Point
1.19″ Manchester
1.18″ Farley
1.14″ West Branch
1.11″ Marion
1.09″ Monona
1.00″ Belle Plaine
0.90″ Decorah
0.87″ Postville
0.84″ Aurora
0.83″ Vinton
0.82″ Elkader
0.76″ Reinbeck
0.64″ Waukon
0.64″ Williamsburg
0.62″ Parnell
0.58″ Cedar Falls
0.55″ Denver
0.51″ Guttenberg
0.50″ Lowden
0.47″ Waverly



The rain tapers off late tonight and early Wednesday morning across eastern Iowa. We might have some mist or drizzle Thursday morning with areas of fog. A few light showers are possible Friday afternoon. Saturday appears to be another soggy, breezy and cool day. Here is the potential rain for Saturday. Some locations could exceed 2″ in parts of eastern Iowa.


One of the best places to be in the fall to see fall colors is New England. When I went to college in Vermont it was always so beautiful everywhere you looked this time of year. Take a look at this photo taken in New Hampshire (just east of Vermont).

The above photo was posted on Earthsky.org

National High and Low Temperature Tuesday, October 10, 2017

95 at Bainbridge, FL
95 at Marianna, FL

-2 at Laramie, WY


Posted under Drought, Fall Colors, Precipitation Totals

This post was written by Schnack on October 10, 2017

Moderate Drought Conditions Expand

The latest US Drought Monitor released this morning indicates the drought has expanded a bit across eastern Iowa.


There is some beneficial rain on the way, especially as we get into late Friday afternoon and Friday night.



Posted under Drought, Precipitation Totals

This post was written by Kyle Kiel on October 5, 2017