CNHI/Southeast Iowa

April 8, 2014

Burn bans popping up as dry conditions persist

OTTUMWA — When last week’s rains didn’t arrive as expected, it wasn’t good news.

Most of Iowa remains in some form of drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor views more than 80 percent of Iowa as abnormally dry. About 56 percent of the state is in at least a moderate drought.

The drought is left over from 2013. While last spring was the wettest on record statewide, the rains stopped over the summer.

Now, area counties are starting to look at whether it’s too dry for people to be burning yard waste. Such open burning is generally allowed, but a pair of area counties have come under burn bans since the beginning of April.

Appanoose County was the first, with a ban imposed on April 1. Marion County went under a ban on Tuesday.

The bans aren’t widespread yet. Five counties in the southwest corner of the state and one in eastern Iowa also ban open burning due to dry conditions. But such bans will likely spread unless the state gets some widespread rainfall.

That’s not likely in the short term. Forecasters say this week will be mostly sunny and somewhat windy in southeast Iowa. There’s a chance of showers Thursday, but not a good one.

The next significant chance of rain looks like it will arrive this weekend. The National Weather Service predicts a 60 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Saturday night and Sunday. It’s far too early to speculate about rainfall amounts, but the NWS Des Moines office said on its website the storms could be strong.

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