Drought called ‘super slow-motion disaster’

Friday, October 19, 2012
By Paul Martin

Rod Boshart

AMES, Iowa — The current drought is “a super slow-motion disaster” that may take several years before the negative effects on farmers, ag-related businesses, small towns, consumers and others are fully understood and tabulated, an Iowa State University extension expert told a legislative panel Thursday.

Cathann Kress, vice president for extension and outreach, said she expects to have preliminary financial assessments of the drought’s impact on Iowa soon, but she noted that the state will need between 16 and 18 inches of rain through next April to replenish subsoil moisture levels that were hard hit by hot and dry conditions during the 2012 growing season.

Normally, Iowa receives about 12 inches of moisture between October and April, and weather models expect below-normal amounts over the next six months.

“This drought is really a deep drought,” Kress told the Legislature’s Fiscal Committee, noting with irony that it was raining outside at the same time she was making her presentation.

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