(5-15-14) Recent heavy rainfall has washed away or at least lessened drought conditions in swaths of Nebraska and Iowa. A report released Thursday by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says drenching rains led to significant improvements for areas of the two states considered to be in drought. Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the center, says overall drought reduced last week by nearly 12 percent in Iowa and about 17 percent in Nebraska. The report says western Iowa saw the greatest improvement in the state. Nebraska saw a substantial reduction in the east-central region, with a pocket now considered drought-free. Fuchs says the improvements seen within the past week are noteworthy, as changes in drought status typically occur slowly.