National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Rains Alleviate Much
of the Abnormally Dry Areas

Updated on Thursday, October 19, 2017

Next Scheduled Update on Thursday, October 26, 2017

Daily Monitoring of Drought Impacts & Outlooks


From October 11 through October 17, up to 1 inch of rain fell north of Interstate 90 and 1 to 2.35 inches of rain fell south of this Interstate.  The heaviest rain fell at Prairie du Chien WI (2.35 inches - Crawford County), Guttenberg IA (2.23 inches - Clayton County), and Fayette IA (2.22 inches - Clayton County).

This rain further alleviated the rainfall deficits which had developed since August 1st.  The U.S. Drought Monitor removed the abnormally dry (D0) conditions across much of the area.  The only areas which are still abnormally dry (D0) are Clark and Taylor counties in north-central Wisconsin.

U.S. Drought Monitor Summary:

In the October 10th release of the U.S. Drought Monitor, extreme (D3) drought was found in south-central Iowa.  

Severe (D2drought was located in a small portion of south-central Iowa.

Moderate (D1drought was found in parts of northwest Minnesota, southeast Wisconsin; central Illinois; southwest Lower Michigan; west-central Indiana, and southeast Iowa.  

Abnormally dry
(D0conditions were found across all or parts of northeast Iowa, from central Wisconsin, southern Lower Michigan, and northeast and southern Illinois, and southern Indiana.

Note: The data cutoff for Drought Monitor maps is Tuesday at 7 a.m. Central Daylight Time.

U.S. Drought Monitor for October 17, 2017 

State Drought Statistics

Iowa Drought Statistics

Minnesota drought statistics

Wisconsin Drought Statistics




Local Area Affected:

Abnormally dry (D0) across all or parts of Clark and Taylor counties in north-central Wisconsin.

County map of drought conditions across northeast Iowa, southeast Minnesota, and western Wisconsin as of October 17, 2017.

State/Local Government Actions:

No known actions are taking place at this time.

Climatological Summary:

Well above-normal October rains along and south of Interstate 90 have put a dent into the rainfall deficits that had developed since August 1st.  Due to this the abnormally dry (D0) conditions have been removed.   

Meanwhile, in north-central Wisconsin, the rainfall deficits since August 1 remains in the 2 to 4 inch range.  Due to this, abnormally dry (D0) conditions remain in north-central Wisconsin.

The following tables show the rain totals and deficits from August 1 through October 17.

Northeast Iowa

Rain Total
(Aug 1-Oct 17)
from Normal
Guttenberg L & D 10 (Clayton County) 5.76" -2.66"
Elkader (Clayton County) 6.26" -2.83"
Strawberry Point (Clayton County) 6.34" -3.12"
New Hampton (Chickasaw County) 7.39" -2.18"
Ionia 2 W (Chickasaw County) 7.49" -1.78"
Decorah (Winneshiek County) 8.49" -1.01"
Cresco 1 NE (Howard County) 8.56" -2.06"
Fayette (Fayette County) 8.64" -1.15"
Charles City (Floyd County) 8.86" +0.13"
Osage (Mitchell County) 10.24" +0.99"
St. Ansgar (Mitchell County) 11.07" +1.56"


Southeast Minnesota

Rain Total
(Aug 1-Oct 17)
from Normal
Winona Dam 5A (Winona County) 7.72" -1.74"
Byron (Olmsted County) 7.80" -2.35"
Theilman (Wabasha County) 8.18" -1.86"
Preston (Fillmore County) 8.45" -1.52"
Caledonia (Houston County) 8.82 -1.48
La Crescent Dam 7 (Winona County) 9.06" -0.93"
Grand Meadow (Mower County) 9.31" -1.15"
Lake City (Wabasha County) 10.01" +0.67"
Altura 5W (Winona County) 10.51" +0.09"
Rochester International Airport (Olmsted County) 10.76" +1.44"
Austin WWTP (Mower County) 12.23" +2.89"


Western Wisconsin

Rain Total
(Aug 1-Oct 17)
from Normal
Cuba City (Grant County) 6.65" -2.37"
La Crosse Municipal Airport (La Crosse County) 6.90" -2.23"
Sparta (Monroe County) 7.08" -2.42"
Prairie du Chien (Crawford County) 7.12" -1.83"
Mather 3 NW (Jackson County) 7.36" -1.90"
Black River Falls Sewage (Jackson County) 7.45" -2.26"
Lynxville Dam 9 (Crawford County) 7.48" -1.09"
Mauston 1 SE (Juneau County) 7.52" -1.44"
Medford, WI (Taylor County) 7.88" -3.07"
Necedah 5 WNW (Juneau County) 7.95" -1.12"
La Crosse 4NNW (La Crosse County) 7.99" -1.61"
Lancaster 4 WSW (Grant County) 8.08" -0.68"
Genoa Dam 8 (Vernon County) 8.29" -1.85"
Viroqua (Vernon County) 8.40" -1.59"
Ontario (Vernon County) 8.65" -1.38"
Trempealeau Dam 6 (Trempealeau County) 8.70" -0.99"
Friendship (Adams County) 9.20" -0.35"
La Farge (Vernon County) 9.22" -0.90"
Alma Dam 4 (Buffalo County) 9.25" -1.62"
La Crosse NWS (La Crosse County) 10.10" +0.11"


The U.S. Drought Monitor is a weekly collaborative effort between a number of federal agencies including NOAA/NWS, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Drought Mitigation Center. Details and explanations of the Drought Monitor can found at the web site:

The categories of drought are defined as follows:

Abnormally Dry (D0)
- Going into drought: short-term dryness slowing planting, growth of crops or pastures; fire risk above average. Coming out of drought: some lingering water deficits; pastures or crops not fully recovered.

Moderate Drought (D1) - Some damage to crops, pastures; fire risk high; streams, reservoirs, or wells low, some water shortages developing or imminent, voluntary water use restrictions requested.

Severe Drought (D2) - Crop or pasture losses likely; fire risk very high; water shortages common; water restrictions imposed.

Extreme Drought (D3) - Major crop/pasture losses; extreme fire danger; widespread water shortages or restrictions.

Exceptional Drought (D4) - Exceptional and widespread crop/pasture losses; exceptional fire risk; shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells, creating water emergencies.

Potential Evapotranspiration Rates:

Disaster & Drought Assistance:

Other Drought Web Sites:

Drought ACIS:

This tool allows you the ability to explore data related to drought from the Regional Climate Centers (RCCs).  You can look at length or periods without rain, temperature data, and more.  Click on the logo below to gain access to this tool.

River and Stream Flow Conditions:

The rivers in northeast Iowa, southeast Minnesota, and western Wisconsin are currently running near to above normal. 

Listed below are some current (October 10th) river and stream flows versus in cubic feet per second (cfs) compared to percentiles of historical daily stream flow for the day of the year.  These are for selected rivers and streams in our service area with long periods (over 30 years) of record as measured by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

USGS River Flow Values as of October 17, 2017
Percentile of historical daily stream flow for the date listed above
Black Black River Falls, WI
Neillsville, WI*
Bloody Run Marquette, IA
Cedar Austin, MN*
Charles City, IA* 1,030 86
Grant Burton, WI*
Kickapoo La Farge, WI*
Ontario, WI*
Steuben, WI*
La Crosse La Crosse, WI
Sparta, WI
Lemonweir New Lisbon, WI
Little Cedar Ionia, IA
Mississippi  Winona, MN 75,500 96
McGregor, IA 24,000 M
Platte Rockville, WI 123 90
Root Near Houston
Pilot Mound, MN
South Fork Root Near Houston 270 80
Trempealeau Arcadia 603 95
Dodge, WI* 695 91
Turkey Eldorado, IA 807 84
Elkader, IA 920 84
Garber, IA 1,230 90
Spillville, IA 185 90
Upper Iowa Bluffton, IA
Decorah, IA
Dorchester, IA
Volga Littleport, IA
Wisconsin Muscoda, WI
Yellow Near Ion, IA
Yellow Necedah, WI
Zumbro South Fork Rochester, MN*
* These sites have current stage and even forecast out to 90 days can be viewed at the National Weather Service's Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) Web Page.

Hourly and forecast river stages out to 90 days can be found at:

Additional Current stream and river stages may be viewed at:

An interactive table of sites which are at or near record flows can be found at:

Agricultural Impacts:



According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, most Iowa farmers fell further behind on harvest due to rain throughout much of the state during the week ending October 15, 2017.  There were only 2.0 days suitable for fieldwork; the second week in a row Iowa has had less than 3 days suitable for fieldwork.  Many activities were delayed due to the wet conditions, but when the weather allowed farmers harvested corn for grain and soybeans, planted cover crops, and hauled manure. 

  • Topsoil moisture levels rated 4 percent very short, 7 percent short, 71 percent adequate and 18 percent surplus.
  • Subsoil moisture levels rated 9 percent very short, 16 percent short, 68 percent adequate and 7 percent surplus. 

Pasture conditions continued to improve with the additional rain to 31 percent good to excellent.  Feedlots remain very muddy. 

It was another wet week across most of Iowa with highly variable temperatures.  There were two statewide rain events with both bringing the heaviest rains to eastern Iowa.  The first rain event moved into western Iowa on Monday (9th) night and very slowly exited eastern Iowa on Thursday (12th) morning.  The second rain event developed over western Iowa on Friday (13th) morning and moved out of eastern Iowa Saturday (14th) night.  Between the two events rain totals exceeded an inch over most of the southeastern two-thirds of Iowa while only light rain fell across the far northwest counties. Weekly rain totals varied from only 0.05 inches at Doon in Lyon County to 4.68 inches near Peosta in Dubuque County.  The statewide average rain total was 1.54 inches while normal for the week is 0.58 inches.  The statewide average precipitation already ranks as the seventh highest for October among 145 years of records with one-half of the month still ahead. 

The week began with unseasonably warm weather on Sunday (8th) when highs were in the seventies and eighties statewide.  The coolest weather came on Tuesday (10th) and Wednesday (11th). Rock Rapids reported the state’s first freeze of the season on Tuesday morning with a 31 degree temperature. A hard freeze followed the next morning over parts of extreme northwest Iowa with the lowest temperature of 25 degrees reported at Sheldon.  Freezing temperatures were confined roughly along and west of a line from Estherville to Storm Lake to Logan.  Meanwhile Fort Madison reported the week’s highest temperature with an 84 degree high on Monday (9th).  However, very warm weather also returned to southeastern Iowa late in the week with highs of 80 degrees at Centerville on Friday (13th) and also at Keokuk on Saturday (14th).  Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged from a degree or two below normal over extreme western Iowa to four to six degrees above normal over the southeast with a statewide average of 2.6 degrees above normal.


According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Minnesota farmers took advantage of the 4.2 days suitable for fieldwork and made good progress in soybean, sunflower and sugarbeet harvests during the week ending October 15, 2017.  Muddy field conditions made harvest a challenge in some areas.  This continued to lag harvest progress behind the 5-year average for all crops except dry edible beans. Harvest continued for corn for grain and silage, and potatoes.

  • Topsoil moisture supplies rated 0 percent very short, 2 percent short, 74 percent adequate and 24 percent surplus.
  • Subsoil moisture supplies rated 2 percent very short, 5 percent short, 75 percent adequate and 18 percent surplus.

Pasture condition remained at 53 percent good to excellent. 


According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, there were 3.6 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending October 15, 2017.  Temperatures were above normal overall this week, but northwestern Wisconsin experienced multiple nights with below freezing temperatures. Frost was reportedly patchy, ending the growing season in some areas.  Fieldwork slowed statewide as soaking rains, overcast, and dreary skies kept soil and grain moistures high.  The corn silage and soybean harvests continued, with some reports of
farmers combining high moisture corn.  Fall crop planting and manure spreading activities advanced as weather permitted.

  • Topsoil moisture supplies were rated 1 percent very short, 9 percent short, 81 percent adequate and 9 percent surplus. 
  • Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 2 percent very short, 11 percent short, 81 percent adequate and 6 percent surplus.

Pasture condition was 60 percent good to excellent, 6 percentage points above last week.

Here are selected quotes from Farm Reporters and County Ag Agents:

In Adams and Juneau counties, we had a rainy week so that slowed down harvest quite a bit.  Corn moisture varies considerably.  Some harvested corn was 23-25 percent moisture early in the week while some other was around 30 percent later in the week.  Soybean and corn yields are also varying considerably as well.

In Monroe County, rainfall last week slowed soybean harvest to just about a stop.  Some folks began harvesting corn for grain where
conditions allowed.

In Vernon County, there was little to no progress regarding harvesting of corn or soybeans this past week.  The weather was cloudy and rainy all week. The rain has helped the alfalfa and pasture green up again.  Farmers getting anxious about harvesting crops.  No killing frost to date in the county.

NASS Soil Moisture Conditions
in Iowa & Minnesota
Sub soil or Top Soil
Very Short
Iowa as of
October 15, 2017
Top Soil North-Central
2 83
Northeast 6
7 71 18
Sub Soil North-Central 2 11 81
62 5
Minnesota as of October 15, 2017 Top Soil State
Sub Soil State 2 5 75 18
Wisconsin as of October 15, 2017 Top Soil North-Central
21 77
West-Central 0 5 87 8
Central 0 4 86 10
Southwest 3
9 81 9
Sub Soil North-Central 0 21 78
West-Central 0 5 91 4
Central 0 5 91 4
70 0

Soil moisture supply measures how much moisture is present in cropland top soil during the week. Soil moisture is reported as a percentage. The categories very short, short, adequate and surplus must add up to 100%.

Very Short - Soil moisture supplies are significantly less than what is required for normal plant development. Growth has been stopped, or nearly so, and plants are showing visible signs of moisture stress. Under these conditions, plants will quickly suffer irreparable damage.

Short - Soil dry.  Seed germination and/or normal crop growth and development would be curtailed.

Adequate - Soil moist.  Seed germination and/or crop growth and development would be normal or unhindered.

Surplus - Soil wet.  Fields may be muddy and will generally be unable to absorb additional moisture.  Young developing crops may be yellowing from excess moisture.

The map below lists the Agricultural Districts in southeast Minnesota, western Wisconsin, and northeast Iowa.

Agricultural Divisions

For additional information on agriculture impacts may be viewed from the:

Fire Danger Hazards:

As of the morning of October 17th, there was low fire dangers across northeast Iowa, southeast Minnesota, and western Wisconsin.

As a reminder, citizens should always check with local officials in their area before undertaking any outside burning.  Citizens are liable for damages and suppression costs of any wildfire they may start.

Description of Fire Danger Ratings

For updated DNR Fire Conditions consult the following Web Sites:

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is a drought index that is specifically related to fire potential. The KDBI is broken into four categories which indicate the susceptibility of ground fuels to fire danger. Below are the four categories and a brief description of each.

Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KDBI)
KBDI Value
Description of Fire Potential
0 to 200
Low - Wet with little danger of fire initiation
201 to 400
Moderate - Drying occurring with some fire danger
401 to 600
High - Ground cover dry and will burn readily
601 to 800
Extreme - Dead and live fuels will burn readily

KBDI and Dead Fuel Moisture data can be found through the:

Burn Bans:

Precipitation/Temperature Outlooks:

From October 19th through October 24th, temperatures will average above normal and precipitation will near normal.  During this time frame, the daily average temperatures range from 43 to 48 degrees and the normal precipitation is around 4 tenths of an inch. 

Beyond this time frame the 8 to 14 day forecast (October 25th through October 31st) from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) calls for near to below-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation.  During this time frame, the daily average temperatures range from 41 to 46 degrees and the normal precipitation is around a 4 tenths of an inch. 

The CPC seasonal outlook for November 2017 through January 2018 calls for enhanced chances of above-normal temperatures.  There are no clear climate signals for precipitation across the Upper Mississippi River Valley; thus, there are equal chances for above-, near-, and below-normal precipitation.

Below are the seasonal outlooks for the next year.

Seasonal Temperature Outlooks

Precipitation Outlooks



For updated temperature and precipitation probabilities consult the following Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Web Sites:

NCEP's CFSv2 (Coupled Forecast System Model Version 2):

Questions or Comments:

If you have any questions or comments about this drought information please contact the NWS La Crosse at:

Telephone: 608-784-8275

The Climate focal point at the NWS La Crosse is Jeff Boyne.

Other Contacts:

Local Agricultural Impacts:

State climate impacts: