This story was originally published by Stateline.
City leaders in Storm Lake, a rural community of 11,000 in northwest Iowa, are asking residents not to wash their cars or water their yards and gardens during the hottest part of the day. The city also has cut back on watering public recreational spaces, such as ballfields and golf courses.
These are highly unusual steps in a state that is normally flush with water and even prone to flooding. But the rain in Iowa, along with the rest of the Corn Belt states of the Midwest, has been mysteriously absent this spring, plunging the region into drought.
“It’s something new that residents have never had to really deal with before,” said Keri Navratil, the city manager of Storm Lake.
As California and much of the Western United States ease out of drought conditions after a spectacularly wet winter, the Midwest has fallen victim to a dry, hot spell that could have devastating consequences for the world’s food supply.