Dry Weather in Southern and East-Central Illinois

After a wet start to the 2010 growing season, two areas of dryness have persisted in the last 60 days (see map below). The first area is far southern Illinois, where dry conditions extend back to June. The second, more recent area is in east-central Illinois. The hardest hit area appears to include parts of the following counties: McLean, Ford, Livingston, Iroquois, and Kankakee. Rainfall in that area has been between 25 and 75 percent of normal. Meanwhile, temperatures during that same period have run about 2.5 degrees above normal.

As expected, topsoil moisture in east-central Illinois has declined rapidly in recent weeks. According to the latest USDA NASS report, the “East” Crop Reporting District (CRD) in the heart of the dry area is showing that 35% of the fields sampled had “very short” and 48% of the fields had “short” topsoil moisture.

In southern Illinois, the percentages of fields with “very short” to “short” topsoil moisture are as follows:

  • East Southeast CRD: 16 % “very short” and 43% “short”
  • Southwest CRD: 17% “very short” and 65% “short”
  • Southeast CRD: 66% “very short” and 12% “short”
60-day rainfall departure
The 60-day (July 2 - August 30) rainfall departure from normal for the Midwest.
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La Nina Returns

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) noted earlier this month that “La Niña conditions are expected to strengthen and last through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2010-11.” A La Niña occurs when abnormally cold waters develop along the equator of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. These changes in the ocean and atmosphere in turn influence the weather over the United States.

That feature is incorporated into the seasonal outlooks provided by the CPC. Right now they are calling for an increased chance of above normal temperatures this fall (September-November) across Illinois. Precipitation has an increased chance of being below normal in the southern two-thirds of Illinois.

Fall outlook.
Outlook for fall for 2010, NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

For this winter (December-February), they call for an increased chance of above normal temperatures in the southern half of Illinois, with equal chances of above, below and near normal temperatures in the northern half of Illinois.  They do call for an increased chance of above normal precipitation across all of Illinois and much of the Ohio River Valley. Updated official seasonal forecasts are posted mid-month here.

Cooling Degree Days Up in Illinois This Year

As of August 16, cooling degree days (CDD) are well above normal this year in Illinois. The statewide average is 1051 CDDs, which is 268 CDDs above normal or 134 percent of normal. Last year the statewide average through this date was only 640 CDDs.

Cooling Degree Day accumulations at selected cities.
City Accumulated Departure from Normal Percent of Normal
Chicago 961 +284 145%
Rockford 778 +175 129%
Moline 1028 +278 137%
Peoria 1044 +280 137%
Quincy 1123 +294 135%
Springfield 1214 +338 139%
St Louis 1583 +442 139%

Cooling degree days are calculated by subtracting the mean daily temperature by 65 degrees. Results above zero are accumulated over time. So if the mean temperature for the day was 75 degrees, then 75 – 65 = 10 cooling degree days. Accumulated over a season and compared to normal gives a relative idea of potential cooling costs. The higher the number, the higher the cooling costs.

Other factors that can influence cooling costs are humidity levels and solar radiation. Personally, I ran the A/C at home pretty much every day since mid-May. Last year I ran it for about two weeks the entire summer.

Record Streak of Warm Days in Chicago

From the National Weather Service

Record of Days At or Above 80 Degrees for Chicagoland

THE PREVIOUS RECORD FOR CONSECUTIVE 80 DEGREE OR ABOVE DAYS WAS 42
DAYS IN A ROW...SET IN 1955. ON AUGUST 13 2010...THE CHICAGOLAND
AREA HIT 43 CONSECUTIVE DAYS...AND THE NUMBER CONTINUES TO
INCREASE. JULY 2 2010 WAS THE FIRST 80 DEGREE DAY OF THE CURRENT
RECORD. AS OF 251 PM CDT TODAY...WHEN THE TEMPERATURE AT OHARE
INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT OFFICIALLY REACHED 80 DEGREES DURING
AFTERNOON HEATING...TODAY IS THE 46 CONSECUTIVE DAY FOR THIS
RECORD.

THE TOP TEN RECORDS ARE AS FOLLOWS

1.   46 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK STILL CONTINUING ON AUGUST 16 2010
2.   42 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON AUGUST 7 1955
3.   34 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON SEPTEMBER 6 1995
4.   32 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON AUGUST 8 1983
5.   30 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON JULY 19 1921
6.   29 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON AUGUST 18 1988
7.   27 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON AUGUST 6 1999
8.   27 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON JULY 14 1966
9.   25 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON AUGUST 15 2007
10. 24 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON JULY 26 2005

First Half of August – Warm

The state-wide temperature in Illinois for the first half of August (August 1-15) was 79.5 degrees, 5.7 degrees above normal. That should come as no surprise to anyone who experience the hot, humid conditions in August.

The state-wide precipitation for the first half of August was 2.32 inches, just 0.41 inches above normal. The wettest conditions were in the northern third of Illinois with most locations reporting 2 to 5 inches of rain. Meanwhile parts of eastern and southeastern Illinois have been on the dry side, reporting less than 1.0 inches so far  in August. The rest of the state was close to normal (around 2 inches).

Illinois rainfall map
Rainfall map for Illinois for August 1-15, 2010

July 1936 – Hot in Chicago

While this summer has been hot and humid, it pales in comparison to the hottest month in Illinois history – July 1936. Here are the records from July of that year at Midway Airport in Chicago. The temperature hit the triple digit mark nine times that month.  That’s more times than for the entire 1954 to present-day period at Midway Airport. Also, eight of those nine days in July were consecutive.

It was also very dry with only 0.31 inches of precipitation that month. A “T” in the precipitation column means the a trace event – enough to wet the sidewalk but not enough to measure.

The second table has the reports from the University of Chicago site. Those numbers show that conditions closer to the lake were a little more tolerable that summer but still very warm. And this was all before air conditioning was in widespread use.

(111577) CHICAGO MIDWAY AP_IL
Date Precip
(in)
MaxT
(F)
MinT
(F)
1936-07-01 0.00 86 55
1936-07-02 0.00 79 63
1936-07-03 0.00 86 60
1936-07-04 T 91 64
1936-07-05 T 82 68
1936-07-06 0.00 92 68
1936-07-07 0.00 102 70
1936-07-08 0.00 106 73
1936-07-09 0.06 100 71
1936-07-10 0.00 106 77
1936-07-11 T 107 76
1936-07-12 0.00 100 76
1936-07-13 0.00 102 73
1936-07-14 0.00 104 69
1936-07-15 0.00 91 74
1936-07-16 0.00 91 72
1936-07-17 0.00 93 66
1936-07-18 0.14 86 70
1936-07-19 0.05 80 62
1936-07-20 0.00 80 57
1936-07-21 0.00 88 60
1936-07-22 0.00 95 59
1936-07-23 0.06 99 69
1936-07-24 T 78 66
1936-07-25 T 94 64
1936-07-26 T 102 71
1936-07-27 T 85 67
1936-07-28 0.00 98 60
1936-07-29 0.00 74 65
1936-07-30 0.00 78 51
1936-07-31 0.00 83 50
Sum: 0.31 2838 2046
Count: 31 31 31
Average: 0.01 91.5 66.0
M = Missing, T = trace
(111572) UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
Date Precip
(in)
MaxT
(F)
MinT
(F)
1936-07-01 0.00 82 58
1936-07-02 0.00 72 63
1936-07-03 T 81 61
1936-07-04 T 82 64
1936-07-05 0.01 74 66
1936-07-06 0.00 84 67
1936-07-07 0.00 95 72
1936-07-08 0.00 95 76
1936-07-09 0.03 95 74
1936-07-10 0.00 102 80
1936-07-11 0.00 97 80
1936-07-12 0.00 89 76
1936-07-13 0.00 91 76
1936-07-14 0.00 96 75
1936-07-15 0.00 86 74
1936-07-16 0.00 82 73
1936-07-17 0.00 84 70
1936-07-18 0.10 81 71
1936-07-19 T 75 70
1936-07-20 0.00 76 67
1936-07-21 0.00 79 66
1936-07-22 0.00 89 66
1936-07-23 0.05 95 70
1936-07-24 T 72 68
1936-07-25 0.00 83 66
1936-07-26 T 90 71
1936-07-27 0.03 86 68
1936-07-28 0.00 87 65
1936-07-29 0.00 73 65
1936-07-30 0.00 74 64
1936-07-31 0.00 78 58
Sum: 0.22 2625 2140
Count: 31 31 31
Average: 0.01 84.7 69.0
M = Missing, T = trace

Areas of Dryness in Illinois in July

While much attention has been given to the areas of heavy rain in Illinois, there were two areas of significant dryness in the state in July. A product from the NWS that combines radar estimates and rain gauge measurements better defined those areas. See figure below.

One area of dryness in July was across north-central Illinois. Amounts in this area were only 25-75 percent of normal. Fortunately, this area received ample rain in June. Even so, the drying of the topsoil is clear in the August 2 USDA NASS Illinois Weather and Crops report.

The other area of dryness in July was in southern Illinois, south of I-64. This area was dry in June as well. As a result of two consecutive months of dry weather, the U.S. Drought Monitor designated this area as “abnormally dry.”

Here is the link to the NWS product: http://water.weather.gov/precip/