Parts of Story County saw its first drought conditions of the year this week, while the entire county is engulfed in abnormally dry conditions.


According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which was released Thursday, the southeast corner of the county is under moderate drought conditions, while the rest of Story County remains under abnormally dry conditions. The entirety of Boone County is also under abnormally dry conditions.


Just less than 48 percent of the state is under abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions as of Thursday. The affected counties are mostly in a line that stretches from the hottest counties in the southeast corner of the state through central Iowa and up to the northwest corner.


State climatologist Harry Hillaker said abnormally dry conditions, known as D0 on the drought scale, aren’t necessarily dangerous, but are more of a warning sign.


However, once an area enters a moderate, or D1 level drought, crops will begin to show signs of stress, like leaves rolling on corn stalks and leaf flipping in soybeans.


Hillaker said crop systems have likely absorbed most of the excess rainwater the state saw during planting season. That poses a particular problem for soybeans and corn planted later in the season, as their less-developed root systems will have more trouble reaching any remaining subsoil moisture.


Yet plants with deep root systems may also find trouble finding moisture in the soil. According to the latest Iowa crop condition report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 43 percent of topsoil and 30 percent of subsoil in the central region of the state measured short or very short.


“We’re at the point of the season where you have to keep getting rain to keep things in a good condition,” he said.


Hillaker said precipitation in the state so far has mostly come in small, fast-moving storm cells instead of larger, widespread rains that cover fields more evenly.


He said while any rain will help control crop stress, farmers would need at least a half inch of rain to produce a noticeable change in crop appearance.


“Anything less than that, you’re buying time and helping things not get any worse, but not necessarily improving the crop condition,” he said.


As of Friday afternoon, the National Weather Service in Des Moines is forecasting clear skies and average high temperatures between the high 80 degrees to low 90 degrees throughout next week. There is a 30 to 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms beginning Tuesday night through Thursday.