National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Moderate Drought Continues
across Parts of the Area

Updated on Thursday, May 13, 2021
Next Scheduled Update:  Thursday, May 20, 2021



From May 5 to May 11, anywhere from a half to 2 inches of rain fell across Floyd County in northeast Iowa.  Elsewhere, rainfall totals were generally less than a half-inch.  The highest rain totals were reported at Charles City, IA (1.90 inches); Strawberry Point, IA (0.80 inches); and Oelwein, IA (0.72 inches).  While this rain was beneficial, it was not enough to alleviate the abnormally dry (D0) conditions and moderate (D1) drought across the Upper Mississippi River Valley.

U.S. Drought Monitor Summary:

In the May 11 release of the U.S. Drought Monitor, abnormally dry (D0) to severe (D2) drought was reported across northwest Iowa and northwest Minnesota. 

Abnormally dry (D0) to moderate (D1) drought:  southern Minnesota; the southern half of Wisconsin, and northeast Illinois.

Abnormally dry (D0): southwest Iowa.

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

U.S. Drought Monitor for May 11, 2021 

State Drought Statistics

Iowa Drought Statistics

Minnesota drought statistics

Wisconsin Drought Statistics




Local Area Affected:

Moderate (D1) Drought in all or parts of:

  • Northeast Iowa:  Chickasaw, Floyd, Howard, and Mitchell counties.
  • Southeast Minnesota:  Fillmore, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha, and Winona counties.
  • Western Wisconsin:  La Crosse, Richland, and Vernon counties.

Abnormally Dry (D1) to Moderate (D1) Drought in all or parts of:

  • Northeast Iowa:  Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, and Winneshiek counties.
  • Southeast Minnesota:  Dodge County.
  • Western Wisconsin:  Buffalo, Crawford, Grant, Jackson, Juneau, Monroe, and Trempealeau counties.

Abnormally Dry (D1) in all or parts of:

  • Western Wisconsin:  Adams and Clark counties.
La Crosse WI CWA Latest Drought Information

State/Local Government Actions:

No known actions are taking place at this time.

Climatological Summary:

Since October 1, 2020, 1 to nearly 8-inch precipitation deficits have developed across much of northeast Iowa, southeast Minnesota, and southwest and central Wisconsin.  The largest deficits are in northeast Iowa and southeast Minnesota.  Due to these deficits, moderate (D1) drought continues in over half (64.26 percent) of the La Crosse Hydrologic Service Area (HSA).

Below is a map of the precipitation deficits & surpluses from October 1, 2020 through May 11, 2021. 

Precipitation deficits October 1, 2020 to May 11, 2021


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.


River and Stream Flow Conditions:

As of the morning of May 11, the river and stream flows ranged from much below- to near-normal in northeast Iowa and southeast Minnesota, and from near- to above-normal in western Wisconsin.

NOTE: This is time-sensitive and conditions could change.  Updated river and streamflow conditions can be found via links to the right.

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's National Agricultural Statistics Service for the week ending on May 9, 2021.


Much needed precipitation fell across much of Iowa.  This was beneficial to crop progress. Statewide there were 5.1 days suitable for fieldwork for the week due to precipitation. Other field activities such as spraying and applying anhydrous and dry fertilizer were slowed by sporadic rains.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 10% very short, 27% short, 61% adequate, and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 13% very short, 39% short, 46% adequate, and 2% surplus.

Statewide, 86% of the expected corn crop has been planted, 10 days ahead of the 5-year average. North-central and central Iowa farmers have less than 10% of their expected corn crop remaining to be planted. Corn emergence improved to 22% complete, an increase of 20 percentage points from the previous week.

Just over two-thirds of the expected soybean crop has been planted, 15 days ahead of the five-year average. Six percent of the expected soybean crop has emerged, 5 days ahead of normal.

Seeding of Iowa’s expected oat crop is nearly complete with 74% emerged, 4 days ahead of average. Iowa’s first oat crop condition rating of the season was 2% very poor, 4% poor, 36% fair, 51% good, and 7% excellent.

The first hay condition rating of the season was 4% very poor, 7% poor, 31% fair, 51% good, and 7% excellent. There were reports of some farmers starting their first cutting of alfalfa. Pasture condition rated 42% good to excellent. Rain during the week helped green up some pastures. Livestock was reported to be in good condition, especially in terms of calving.


Minnesota farmers were able to take advantage of 6.1 days suitable for fieldwork during the week.  Field activities for the week included corn and soybean planting and herbicide application.

Topsoil moisture supplies were rated 12% very short, 32% short, 53% adequate, and 3% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 7% very short, 33% short, 57% adequate, and 3% surplus. Dry conditions continue to be reported.

Minnesota farmers were able to plant 25% of their expected corn crop for a total of 85% planted, 1 day behind last year but 12 days ahead of the 5-year average. Corn was 8% emerged, 3 days behind average. Soybeans were 65% planted, 5 days ahead of last year and almost 2 weeks ahead of normal.

Spring wheat was 97% planted, just over 3 weeks ahead of both last year and the 5-year average. Spring wheat was 50% emerged, over 2 weeks ahead of 2020 and 11 days ahead of normal. Oats were 89% planted, one week ahead of last year and 12 days ahead of average. Oats were 52% emerged, 2 days ahead last year and 1 week ahead of normal. The first oat condition rating of the season was 0% very poor, 2% poor, 33% fair, 57% good, and 8% excellent. Barley was 89% planted, 2 weeks ahead of last year and 13 days ahead of the average. Barley was 41% emerged, 8 days ahead the previous year and 9 days ahead of normal.

Potato planting was 74% complete, 1 week ahead of last year, and 8 days ahead of the average. Sugarbeet crop planted was 99% complete statewide, over 3 weeks ahead of last year and average. Dry beans were 17% planted, 2 days ahead of last year and 4 days ahead of normal. Sunflowers were 33% planted, 12 days ahead of last year and 1 week ahead of normal.

Hay condition was at 2% very poor, 3% poor, 32% fair, 58% good, and 5% excellent.
Pasture condition rated 5% very poor, 11% poor, 32% fair, 47% good and 5% excellent. Pasture growth has been slow in some areas. No problems were reported with livestock.


Wisconsin had 5.2 days suitable for fieldwork for the week.  Central and southern Wisconsin received some rain early in the week, but the rest of the week was dry, windy, and cool.  Overnight lows were in the 30s for much of the week with a widespread hard freeze on Friday night.  This was excellent weather for fieldwork, with lots of planting, manure applications and tillage accomplished this week.  However, cold and dry soil conditions have slowed crop emergence.  Reporters commented that crop development seemed slow compared to the amount of growing degree days received this year.  Farmers were on alert for frost damage to hay stands, fruit trees, and cranberries.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 6% very short, 21% short, 69% adequate, and 4% surplus.  Subsoil moisture condition rated 4% very short, 22% short, 69% adequate, and 5% surplus.

Corn is reported 49% planted, 2 days behind last year but 5 days ahead of the 5-year average.  Corn emerged was at 5%, two days ahead of both last year and the average.

Soybeans are reported 34% planted, 1 day ahead of last year and 9 days ahead of the average.  Some reports were received of soybeans emerging in southern Wisconsin.

Oats are reported 82% planted, 5 days ahead of last year and 12 days ahead of the average.  Forty-eight percent of oats are emerged, 5 days ahead of last year and 9 days ahead of the average.  Oat condition was rated 70% good to excellent statewide.

Potatoes are 77% planted, 6 days ahead of last year and 8 days ahead of the average.

Winter wheat condition was rated 88% good to excellent statewide, up 2 percentage points from last week.

Spring tillage was reported 84% complete, 4 days ahead of last year and 14 days ahead of the average.

All hay condition was reported 72% in good to excellent condition.

Pasture conditions were rated 62% good to excellent, 1 percentage point above last week.

NASS Soil Moisture Conditions in Northeast Iowa, Southeast Minnesota,
& Western Wisconsin as of May 9, 2021
Percent of Moisture
Very Short
Iowa  North-Central Top Soil 8 36 56 0
Sub Soil 11 49 40 0
Northeast Top Soil 3 27 69 1
Sub Soil 2 30 67 1
Minnesota  State Top Soil 12 32 53 3
Sub Soil 7 33 57 3
Wisconsin  Southwest Top Soil 7 15 75 3
Sub Soil 0 16 84 0
West-Central Top Soil 18 35 45 2
Sub Soil 11 43 45 1
Central Top Soil 3 17 77 3
Sub Soil 3 16 73 8
North-Central Top Soil 1 10 83 6
Sub Soil 0 7 71 22

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 May 11, fire danger ranged from moderate (fires start easily and spread at a moderate rate) to high (fires start easily and spread at a fast rate) in southeast Minnesota, and from low (fires are not easily started) to high (fires start easily and spread at a fast rate) in western Wisconsin.  

NOTE: This is time-sensitive and conditions could change day-to-day  Fire conditions can change drastically on drier, windy days.  Updated DNR fire conditions can be found via links to the right.

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  May 13 to May 18, temperatures and precipitation will average near- to above-normal.  During this time frame, daily average temperatures range from 56 to 61 degrees and the normal precipitation is around 8 tenths of an inch. 

Beyond this time frame, the 8 to 14-day forecast (May 19-25) from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) calls for enhanced chances for above-normal temperatures and precipitation.  The daily average temperatures for this period range from 59 to 64 degrees and the normal precipitation is around an inch. 

From June through August (meteorological summer seasonal outlook), the Climate Prediction Center has tilted the odds toward warmer across the Upper Mississippi River Valley.  Meanwhile, the precipitation outlook is for equal chances of wetter-, near-, and drier-than-normal.

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: