National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Rains Alleviate the Moderate (D1) Drought

Updated on Thursday, September 17, 2020
Next Scheduled Update;  Thursday, September 24, 2020



From September 8-15, heavy rain (2 to 6 inches) fell across northeast Iowa, parts of southeast Minnesota, and in southwest and central Wisconsin.  This alleviated the moderate (D1) drought across these areas.  While these areas are no longer in drought, abnormally dry (D0) conditions continue.  

Rainfall September 8-15, 2020

U.S. Drought Monitor Summary:

In the September 15 release of the U.S. Drought Monitor, abnormally dry (D0) to severe (D2) drought was seen across the western half of Iowa. 

Abnormally dry (D0) to moderate (D1) drought conditions were seen in west-central,  southwest, and northeast Minnesota; parts of the eastern half of Iowa; and northeast Illinois.

Abnormally dry (D0) conditions were seen in central and southeast Minnesota, and in east-central and west-central Wisconsin.

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

U.S. Drought Monitor for September 15, 2020 

State Drought Statistics

Iowa Drought Statistics

Minnesota drought statistics

Wisconsin Drought Statistics




Local Area Affected:

Abnormally dry (D0) all or parts of:

  • Northeast Iowa: Allamakee, Chickasaw, Fayette, Floyd, Howard, Mitchell, and Winneshiek counties.
  • Southeast Minnesota:  Fillmore, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha, and Winona counties.
  • West-Central and Southwest Wisconsin:  Buffalo and Trempealeau counties.
La Crosse WI CWA Latest Drought Information

State/Local Government Actions:

No known actions are taking place at this time.

Climatological Summary:

Since July 1, up to 4-inch rainfall deficits have developed across northeast Iowa, southeast Minnesota, and west-central Wisconsin.  Due to these deficits, abnormally dry (D0) conditions remain across these areas.

Here is a map of the precipitation deficits & surpluses from July 1 to September 10, 2020. 

Precipitation deficits July 1 through September 15, 2020

The following tables show the precipitation totals and deficits from July 1 through September 15, 2020.

Northeast Iowa, Southeast Minnesota, & Western Wisconsin
Precipitation Deficits & Surpluses
Northeast Iowa County Rain Total
(July 1 to
September15, 2020)
from Normal
Osage Mitchell 6.28" -4.32"
Charles City Floyd 8.33" -2.31"
Decorah Winneshiek 8.67" -2.15"
Elkader 6 SSW Clayton 8.70" -1.53"
Ionia 2 W Chickasaw 9.19" -1.71"
Oelwein 1E Fayette 9.32" -3.72"
St. Ansgar Mitchell 9.58" -0.72"
Fayette Fayette 10.41" -1.51"
Strawberry Point Clayton 11.04" -0.30"
Guttenberg L & D 10 Clayton 12.11" +2.12"
Southeast Minnesota County Rain Total
(July 1 to
September 15, 2020)
from Normal
Lake City Wabasha 5.76" -4.98"
Minnesota City Dam 5 Winona 7.21" -3.39"
Theilman 1SSW Wabasha 7.30" -3.89"
Altura 5W Winona 7.58" -3.74"
Elgin 2SSW Olmsted 7.89" -3.17"
Wabasha Wabasha 7.90" -3.46"
Preston Fillmore 7.99" -3.16"
Winona Dam 5A Winona 8.62" -1.97"
Austin WWTF Mower 8.87" -2.04"
La Crescent Dam 7 Winona 9.12" -1.95"
Rochester International Airport Olmsted 9.54" -1.33"
Caledonia   Houston 10.17" -1.44"
Rochester AP 2 NE Olmsted 10.85" -0.14
West-Central &
Southwest Wisconsin
County Rain Total
(July 1 to
September 15, 2020)
from Normal
La Crosse Municipal Airport La Crosse 7.78" -2.62"
La Crosse 4 NNW La Crosse 8.57" -2.18"
Steuben 4 SE Crawford 8.77" -1.53"
Alma Dam 4 Buffalo 8.48" -3.54"
La Crosse NWS La Crosse 8.87" -2.12"
Sparta Monroe 9.84" -0.81"
Trempealeau Dam 6 Trempealeau 9.96" -1.10"
Medford Taylor 10.28" -0.47"
Genoa Dam 8 Vernon 10.49" -1.13"
Viroqua Vernon 10.79" -0.70"
Prairie du Chien Crawford 11.28" +1.25"
Owen 1E Clark 11.61" +0.83"
La Farge Vernon 11.76" +0.21"
Mather 3 NW Jackson 12.12" +1.12"
Friendship Adams 13.33" +2.25"
Necedah 5 WNW Juneau 13.75" +3.60"
Lancaster 4 WSW Grant 15.73" +5.57"
Mauston 1 SE Juneau 17.24" +7.26"


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:

U.S. Drought Monitor

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.

http://droInsert Row


River and Stream Flow Conditions:

As of September 15, the river and stream flows ranged from near-normal to above-normal across northeast Iowa and southeast Minnesota, from near-normal to much above-normal in western Wisconsin.



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:

The following reports came from the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service for the week ending on September 13, 2020.


Most of Iowa had multiple days of much-needed rain, which only left just 1.4 days suitable for fieldwork during the week. Field activities included harvesting corn for silage, moving old-crop grain stocks, and preparing equipment and bins for harvest.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 12% very short, 21% short, 59% adequate, and 8% surplus. Subsoil moisture condition rated 20% very short, 31% short, 46% adequate, and 3% surplus. 

Corn condition rated 42% good to excellent, a drop of 1 percentage point from the previous week. 

Soybean condition rated 48% good to excellent. 

Alfalfa hay third cutting was 96% complete, over a month ahead of last year and 18 days ahead of the 5-year average. Pasture condition improved 5 percentage points this week although still just 17% good to excellent. Pastures are greening up as a result of receiving much-needed rain. Cattlemen continued supplemental feeding of hay.


Cool, damp conditions slowed crop maturity in Southern Minnesota while other areas received a heavy frost. Field activities included harvesting potatoes, sugarbeets, dry beans, and corn for silage.

Topsoil moisture condition rated to 2% very short, 8% short, 80% adequate, and 10% surplus. Subsoil moisture condition rated 3% very short, 10% short, 78% adequate, and 9% surplus.

Corn condition dropped to 76% good to excellent, it's lowest rating so far this year compared to last week’s 78%. 

Soybean condition dropped to its lowest rating of the year to 77% good to excellent compared to last week’s 79%.

Pasture condition increased slightly to 59% good to excellent.


Wisconsin had 3.2 days suitable for fieldwork for the week. Frequent rains kept farmers out of fields in southern Wisconsin, while clearer weather in the northern districts allowed fieldwork to progress. Several reporters noted that this week’s rains recharged soil moistures after weeks of dry conditions.  Temperatures were well below normal, with daytime highs in the 40s to low 60s. Northern and central Wisconsin saw the first frosts of the season midweek. Corn and soybeans were maturing quickly. Corn silage chopping made good progress where conditions allowed. Manure, winter wheat, and cover crops were going into cleared fields. There were reports of early-planted soybeans being combined. The potato harvest was moving right along and apple picking was in full swing.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 5% very short, 14% short, 73% adequate, and 8% surplus. Subsoil moisture condition rated 5% very short, 14% short, 74% adequate, and 7% surplus.

Corn condition rated 78% good to excellent statewide, unchanged from last week. 

Soybean condition rated 79% good to excellent statewide, down 2 percentage points from last week.

Pasture condition rated 59% good to excellent statewide, unchanged from last week.

NASS Soil Moisture Conditions in Northeast Iowa, Southeast Minnesota, & Western Wisconsin
Percent of Moisture
Very Short
Iowa as of September 13, 2020 North-Central Top Soil 1 14 81 4
Sub Soil 9 45 46 0
Northeast Top Soil 0 4 86 10
Sub Soil 1 8 88 3
Minnesota as of September 13, 2020 State Top Soil 2 8 80 10
Sub Soil 3 10 78 9
Wisconsin as of September 13, 2020 Southwest Top Soil 0 10 84 6
Sub Soil 1 13 83 3
West-Central Top Soil 12 21 64 3
Sub Soil 12 18 69 1
Central Top Soil 12 13 60 15
Sub Soil 10 11 69 10

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 September 15, low fire danger was reported across 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 September 17 to September 23, temperatures will average near to below-normal temperatures and rainfall will average below-normal.  During this time frame, the daily average temperatures range from 56 to 61 degrees and the normal precipitation is around 9 tenths of an inch. 

Beyond this time frame, the 8 to 14-day forecast (September 24-30) from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) calls for above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation.  During this time frame, the daily average temperatures range from 53 to 58 degrees, and the normal precipitation is around 7 tenths of an inch. 

The CPC seasonal outlook from October through December has enhanced chances of above-normal temperatures and equal chances for wetter-, near-, and drier-than-normal precipitation for the Upper Mississippi River Valley.

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):

County Analysis Precipitation Tool

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 and drought focal point at the NWS La Crosse is Jeff Boyne.

Other Contacts:

Local Agricultural Impacts:

State climate impacts: