IOWA — The state of Iowa has hopefully turned in a corner in the search for moisture after a year of widespread drought conditions. Weeks of heavy rains have pulled much of the state back from drought for the first time in months – a positive sign for farm fields, front yards and vegetable gardens.

According to the USDA Drought Monitor report released on Thursday, 54% of Iowa is still in drought conditions. That is down nearly 10% in the last week and significantly lower than the start of the year when 90% of the state was in a drought.

The drought has been felt most severely in northwest Iowa. For the first time all year, there are no acres in that region – or anywhere in Iowa – considered to be in an Exceptional Drought stage, the most severe. Less than 1% of the state is now considered to be in the next highest level – Extreme Drought.

Most of Polk County remains listed as Abnormally Dry – the lowest level of drought. All of Warren County to the south and nearly all of Story County to the north are no longer in drought conditions. Drought conditions have been continuous in Polk County since last July.

The resurgence in soil moisture is thanks to the late arrival of spring rains. Some areas have seen six inches or more in the last month in Iowa.