National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Drought Expands

Updated on Thursday, September 21, 2017

Next Scheduled Update on Thursday, September 28, 2017

Daily Monitoring of Drought Impacts & Outlooks


Since August 1st, very little rain has fallen along and south of the Interstate 90 corridor.  Rainfall deficits during this time frame range from 3 to 6 inches.  Due to this, the moderate (D1) drought has expanded across southwest and west-central Wisconsin, northeast Iowa, and southeast Minnesota.  

U.S. Drought Monitor Summary:

In the September 19th release of the U.S. Drought Monitor, extreme (D3) drought was found in south-central and southeast Iowa.  

Severe (D2drought was located in northwest Minnesota and a small portion of northeast Iowa.  

Moderate (D1drought was found in southeast Minnesota, southwest and southeast Wisconsin, central Illinois, south-central Lower Michigan, and central and northwest Iowa.  

Abnormally dry
(D0conditions were found across southern Lower Michigan, much of Illinois Illinois, southwest and north-central Iowa, south-central Minnesota, and 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 12, 2017 

State Drought Statistics

Iowa Drought Statistics

Minnesota drought statistics

Wisconsin Drought Statistics




Local Area Affected:

Moderate (D1) to severe (D2drought across Allamakee County in northeast Iowa and Houston County in southeast Minnesota.

Moderate (D1) drought across Crawford County in southwest Wisconsin.

Abnormally dry (D0)) to severe (D2drought across Winneshiek County in northeast Iowa.

Abnormally dry (D0) to moderate drought (D1) across all or portions of Clayton, Fayette, and Howard counties in northeast Iowa; Fillmore and Winona counties in southeast Minnesota; and Grant, La Crosse, Monroe, and Vernon counties in western Wisconsin.

Abnormally dry (D0) across all or parts of Chickasaw, Floyd, and Mitchell counties in northeast Iowa;  Mower and Olmsted counties in southeast Minnesota; and Adams,  Buffalo, Clark, Jackson, Juneau, Richland, and Trempealeau counties in western Wisconsin.

County map of drought conditions across northeast Iowa, southeast Minnesota, and western Wisconsin as of September 19, 2017.

State/Local Government Actions:

No known actions are taking place at this time.

Climatological Summary:

Since August 1, the rainfall deficits have ranged from 3 to 6 inches along and south of the Interstate 90 corridor.  The following tables show the rain totals and deficits from August 1 through September 19.

Northeast Iowa

Rain Total
(August 1-Sep 19)
from Normal
Guttenberg L & D 10 (Clayton County) 0.67 -5.37"
Oelwein 1E (Fayette County) 1.09" -5.48"
Strawberry Point (Clayton County) 1.47" -5.22"
Elkader (Clayton County) 1.68" -4.72"
Fayette (Fayette County) 1.81" -5.26"
Postville (Allamakee County) 2.08" -4.83"
Waucoma 1 WNW (Fayette County) 2.32" -4.35"
Decorah (Winneshiek County) 2.38" -4.60"
Cresco 1 NE (Howard County) 2.45" -5.36"
Ionia 2 W (Chickasaw County) 2.51" -4.07"
Charles City (Floyd County) 2.66" -3.60"
Osage (Mitchell County) 3.54" -3.06"


Southeast Minnesota

Rain Total
(August 1-Sep 19)
from Normal
Caledonia (Houston County) 1.52" -6.01"
Spring Grove 4N (Houston County) 2.17" -4.97"
La Crescent Dam 7 (Winona County) 2.57" -4.62"
Spring Valley (Fillmore County) 3.01" -4.42"
Grand Meadow (Mower County) 3.39" -4.11"
Byron (Olmsted County) 3.66" -3.49"
Winona Dam 5A (Winona County) 3.96" -2.88"
Theilman (Wabasha County) 4.48" -2.84"
Rochester International Airport (Olmsted County) 5.64" -1.13"
Altura 5W (Winona County) 5.90" -1.55"


Western Wisconsin

Rain Total
(August 1-Sep 19)
from Normal
Lancaster 4 WSW (Grant County) 0.98" -5.27"
Prairie du Chien (Crawford County) 1.20" -5.30"
Genoa Dam 8 (Vernon County) 1.36" -6.15"
La Crosse Municipal Airport (La Crosse County) 1.43" -5.19"
Sparta (Monroe County) 1.66" -5.07"
La Crosse 4NNW 1.70" -5.17"
Viroqua (Vernon County) 2.00" -5.35"
Lynxville Dam 9 (Crawford County) 2.01" -4.27"
Cuba City (Grant) 2.22" -4.03"
La Farge (Vernon County) 2.34" -4.90"
La Crosse NWS (La Crosse County) 2.37" -4.60"
Westby 3ENE (Vernon County) 2.37" -4.67"
Mather 3 NW (Jackson County) 2.50" -3.92"
Steuben 4 SE (Crawford County) 2.62" -4.28"
Ontario (Vernon County) 3.16" -3.97"
Necedah 5 WNW (Juneau County) 3.31" -3.06"
Black River Falls Sewage (Jackson County) 3.54" -3.46"
Mauston 1 SE (Juneau County) 3.76" -2.70"
Trempealeau Dam 6 (Trempealeau County) 3.94" -2.97"
Friendship (Adams County) 5.30" -1.46"
Alma Dam 4 (Buffalo County) 5.52" -2.30"


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:

Normal flows continue along rivers and streams in northeast Iowa, southeast Minnesota, and western Wisconsin.

Listed below are some current (September 19th) 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 September 19, 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* 356 54
Osage, IA
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 23,700 65
McGregor, IA 24,000 NA
Platte Rockville, WI 117 83
Root Near Houston
Pilot Mound, MN
South Fork Root Near Houston 239 75
Trempealeau Arcadia 501 85
Dodge, WI* 604 86
Turkey Eldorado, IA 203 67
Elkader, IA 275 42
Garber, IA 553 67
Spillville, IA 39.4 39
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 It was mostly dry in Iowa with above normal temperatures for the week ending September 17, 2017.  Statewide there were 6.2 days suitable for fieldwork. With increased heat and little moisture, crops matured rapidly in the past week. Activities for the week included seeding cover crops, spreading
manure, harvesting seed corn, chopping corn silage, and hauling grain. 

  • Topsoil moisture levels rated 21 percent very short, 30 percent short, 49 percent adequate and 0 percent surplus. 
  • Subsoil moisture levels rated 20 percent very short, 34 percent short, 46 percent adequate and 0 percent surplus.

Pasture conditions worsened over the past week with 47 percent poor to very poor.

It was a warm week across Iowa with temperatures averaging from one degree above normal southeast to 6 to 8 degrees above normal over the north and west. Temperature extremes varied from a 39 degree low at Lowden in Cedar County on Monday (11th) morning to highs of 94 degrees at Des Moines and Perry on Friday (15th).

It was very dry through the workweek with widespread rain finally arriving over the weekend.  Nearly all of the week’s rain fell between Friday (15th) morning and Sunday (17th) morning.  The statewide average precipitation amount was 0.68 inches while normal for the week is 0.79 inches. 


According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service during the week ending September 17, 2017, warm conditions aided maturity of corn and soybeans and contributed to a rapid harvest pace of dry edible beans.  There were 5.7 days suitable for fieldwork. Some areas reported fall tillage delays due to dry conditions. Harvest continued for corn silage, sugarbeets, potatoes, and alfalfa hay.

  • Topsoil moisture supplies rated 2 percent very short, 16 percent short, 78 percent adequate and 4 percent surplus. 
  • Subsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 15 percent short, 78 percent adequate and 3 percent surplus.

Pasture condition declined to 54 percent good to excellent.


According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service during the week ending September 17, 2017, there were 6.6 days suitable for fieldwork for the week.  Dry conditions continued this week, with southern Wisconsin receiving very little precipitation, and only a few light showers in the north. Temperatures, however, were well above normal with daytime highs in the upper 80s.  This burst of heat pushed corn and soybeans toward maturity and allowed many farmers to make hay.  Reporters in the northern portions of the state commented that corn plant moistures were still too high to chop silage.  Silage harvest was going strong in the southern portions of the state.  Some reporters there noted that conditions have gotten unfavorably dry and rain is now needed. 

  • Topsoil moisture supplies were rated 4 percent very short, 17 percent short, 77 percent adequate and 2 percent surplus.
  • Subsoil moisture supplies were rated 2 percent very short, 12 percent short, 83 percent adequate and 3 percent surplus.

Pasture condition was 63 percent good to excellent, 9 percentage points less than last week.

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

In Clark County. it was a dry week with some growing degree days, unusual for September. Corn needs some heat to finish. Speaking with some farmers, corn silage harvest is still a couple weeks away. Beginning to see some corn dent, but well behind normal. Soybeans are changing quickly. Some fields showing color change and a day later the whole field has changed as the grain is maturing and drying down. Did see some corn silage harvested, but very limited as moistures are near 80 percent from reports I've received. Most of the oats have been harvested with below average yield and light test weight a common theme. 

In Monroe County, crops on sandy soils are really shutting down due to dry weather.

NASS Soil Moisture Conditions
in Iowa & Minnesota
Sub soil or Top Soil
Very Short
Iowa as of
September 17, 2017
Top Soil North-Central
24 68
Northeast 10
30 49 0
Sub Soil North-Central 10 26 64
52 0
Minnesota as of September 17, 2017 Top Soil State
Sub Soil State 4 15 78 3
Wisconsin as of September 17, 2017 Top Soil West-Central
11 87
Central 2 25 72 3
Southwest 21
17 77 2
Sub Soil West-Central 1 11 86
Central 0 13 85 2
68 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 September 19th, moderate fire danger was reported in Buffalo, Clark, Crawford, Grant, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Richland, Trempealeau, and Vernon counties in western Wisconsin.

Low fire danger was reported across northeast Iowa; southeast Minnesota; and in Adams, Juneau, and Taylor counties in 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 21st through September 26th, temperatures will average above normal and precipitation will average below normal.  During this time frame, the daily average temperatures range from 55 to 60 degrees and the normal precipitation is around 6 tenths of an inch. 

Beyond this time frame the 8 to 14 day forecast (September 27th through October 3rd) from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) calls for below-normal temperatures and near-normal precipitation.  During this time frame, the daily average temperatures range from 52 to 57 degrees and the normal precipitation is around 7 tenths of an inch. 

The CPC seasonal outlook for October through December calls for enhanced chances of above-normal temperatures and equal chances of above-, near-, and below-normal precipitation across 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):

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: