Observed Soil Moisture
The Illinois State Water Survey has been monitoring the soil moisture at 19 sites around the state. The soil moisture is measured with probes set at specific depths at each site. It is reported as the fraction of water in the soil by volume. Most of the non-sandy soils in Illinois can hold up to 30-40 percent water by volume in the spaces between the soil particles.
Current observations in the driest areas of the state show significant declines at 2, 4, and 8 inches since early March. At the Peoria site, in the heart of the dry area, the fraction of water in the soil is only 15 percent at 2 inches, 18 percent at 4 inches, and 22 percent at 8 inches. The 20-inch depth has remained unchanged at 32 percent. By comparison at the end of April of last year, the fraction of water in the soil at those depths were all in the 35-40 percent range.
We are in the process of getting these data online in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.
U.S. Drought Monitor
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map for Illinois shows an expanded area of D0 “abnormally dry” weather across the central part of the state between Interstates 70 and 80. A small area of D1 “moderate drought” is located in the area centered on Logan County. Another small area of D0 is in southeastern Illinois.