Area Drifting Into Drought
By Maggie Borman
The Telegraph (www.zwire.com)
Published June 13, 2005
Even with recent rains, the area is in drought mode.
The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that much of Central
Illinois is classified as being in a moderate drought,
generally extending from near St. Louis to northeast of
Kankakee, while East-Central and Southeast Illinois are
classified as being abnormally dry.
Although last week’s scattered thundershowers brought
little relief to farmers who have begun to see the green
leaves on the emerging corn crop start to curl, Illinois
State Climatologist Jim Angel said Friday that there is
some hope for farmers and specialty crop producers.
"The good news is that there is a chance for thunderstorms
for the next several days, so we may see some relief from
the dry weather. Some timely rains would really help out
the crops right now," Angel said.
The other good news, Angel said, is that while the soil
is dry at the surface (the top 6 to 12 inches), it is
in better shape in the lower levels, thanks to the wet
"Still, it will probably take a month of above-normal
rainfall to get us out of the current situation,"
Historically, dry springs lead to summers that are drier
and warmer than normal, Angel said, noting that Illinois
has had one of the driest springs since records have been
kept. Precipitation statewide in May averaged only 1.86
inches, 44 percent of normal, ranking May as the sixth-driest
since 1895. Precipitation in March also was low at 6.02
inches, 53 percent of normal, making it the fourth-driest
spring on record after 1934, 1895 and 1936.
The National Weather Service outlook for this summer
is neutral on precipitation, meaning no increased chance
for dry weather, Angel said. But he noted the NWS also
lists The Telegraph coverage area as having a slightly
increased chance of warmer-than-normal temperatures.
"Temperatures have gotten considerably warmer this
week, adding to the stress on the crops and further drying
out the soils," Angel said Friday. "Last year
was so mild that White Hall only reported two days above
90 degrees for the whole summer. This year, they have
already had three days above 90 degrees, and that doesn’t
The Weather Service’s outlook for meteorological summer
-- June through August -- is similar to its outlook for
June: equal chances of above-normal, normal or below-normal
temperatures and precipitation, Angel said, but with a
slightly increased chance of above-normal temperatures
in the southern half of the state.
"I had hoped the recent rains would have been more
widespread, but most places in The Telegraph coverage
area, and elsewhere in the state, got less than an inch
of rain," Angel said.
The U.S. Drought Monitor’s National Drought Summary last
Tuesday said the recent dryness is also beginning to have
an effect on the water levels within the Great Lakes.
As of the beginning of June, Lake Superior was 3 inches
below its long-term average, while Lakes Michigan and
Huron were 13 inches below the long-term average.
Highlighting the recent dryness across southern Michigan,
western Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, western Kentucky and
southern Missouri, the U.S. Department of Agriculture
reported Tuesday that topsoil moisture values were 55
percent, 15 percent, 26 percent, 74 percent, 34 percent
and 56 percent short to very short, respectively.
"In The Telegraph coverage area, for example, White
Hall has reported only 0.30 inches of rain in June. The
Alton Dam has reported 0.62 inches for the month so far.
Normal June rainfall is 3.17 inches," Angel said.
"That means you would have to get about three-quarters
of an inch of rain per week just to stay where you are."