Drought conditions worsen across northern Illinois


The lack of rainfall is really taking a toll across much of northern Illinois. The latest drought monitor shows that the drought conditions have worsened across much of northern Illinois, with now portions of DeKalb, Ogle, Lee, Carroll and Whiteside counties experiencing severe drought conditions. A small portion of far northeast Illinois, in Lake County, is experiencing extreme drought conditions.

While there has been some rain within the last week, it hasn’t been nearly enough to help ease the extremely dry conditions across the region. In September alone we’ve only received 0.36″ of rainfall, putting us at a 2.55 inch deficit. For the year, Rockford has only received 15.86 inches of precipitation, when normally by this time of year we should be closer to 30 inches. This puts us over a foot below our year to date average, making the period from January 1st to September 22nd, 2021, the driest year to date on record. Now there were two other years, 1920 and 1946, that had less year to date precipitation but there is quite a bit of missing data during the Spring and Summer months of those years.

The second driest year to follow this one would be 1988 with only 16.60 inches, and then 1934 with only 16.75 inches. For many we remember 2012 as being a very hot and dry year; year to date it came in as the 5th driest with 17.84 inches.

According to the National Weather Service, volunteer weather observers across northern Illinois indicate that stream flows in some of the area creeks and streams are much lower; specifically along the Kishwaukee River and Beaver Creek. Over the last 30 days we’ve only received 25-50 percent of our average rainfall, leading to the deteriorating drought conditions across the region. Soil moisture is also very low, estimated at only 1-5 percent of average. While there will likely be some rain Friday evening with the passage of a cold front, the next seven days (and beyond) are looking very dry. And the rain we get Friday evening will remain under half an inch. Extended outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center have a high probability for below average precipitation through the beginning of October, with above average temperatures.

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