- Associated Press - Thursday, June 12, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Storms last week brought with them some peril in the form of wind and large hail but they also delivered enough rain to relieve drought conditions across much of Iowa and Nebraska, the latest drought report released Thursday said.

A slow moving storm system moved across the Great Plains to the Tennessee Valley “spreading copious amounts of rain across much of the Great Plains, Midwest, and Southeast,” wrote drought monitor author Matt Rosencrans, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA compiles the weekly drought update with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The thunderstorms prompted the removal or reduction of drought across much of the Midwest and Central Great Plains. Iowa’s remaining drought is mostly confined to the northwest and southeast corners of the state. About 40 percent of the state has some drought - mostly abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions, the lower two categories on a five-step scale of drought severity. That’s a significant improvement from a week earlier when nearly 56 percent of the state had some drought.

In Nebraska, drought coverage was reduced to 63 percent of the state from nearly 70 percent the week before. Extreme drought was removed from central Nebraska as the region received enough rain to recharge soil moisture down to 2 to 3 feet, the state climatologist reported.

Storms in Iowa and Nebraska last week produced a tornado near Oakland in western Iowa and produced baseball-size hail and heavy rain in portions of both states.

Nationally, the drought monitor showed 30 percent of the 50 U.S. states and Puerto Rico had moderate drought or worse, compared with 31 percent a week earlier.

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