The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says recent rains have improved drought conditions in the state, but precipitation levels were still below average. September started dryer than usual for much of Iowa, but that changed in the following weeks with much needed rain in drought-stricken areas. Rain totals reached as high as 9.5 inches in Guthrie Center during September. Most of northwest, west central and southwest Iowa saw six inches or more during that same period. The statewide precipitation average during the 2017 water year, which lasted from Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017, was nearly 32 inches, 3.28 inches lower than normal. The water year was also the fourth warmest year on record, averaging 2.6 degrees over normal at 50.7 degrees. The DNR notes stream flows and groundwater conditions have also improved due to the recent rains.