The US Drought Monitor introduced their D0 “abnormally dry” category across northern and western Illinois (first map). Should we be worried? We have been running about 2 to 4 inches below average on precipitation this winter (second map) – that’s both rainfall and the water content of any snow. The good news is that the demand for water is very low in winter. Therefore, the impacts on soil moisture, stream flows, and lake levels so far have been minimal.
“D0” does not mean drought but is designed in this case to provide an alert that we have been dry this winter. It is entirely possible that wetter-than-average conditions in the next month or two could completely erase these deficits. It has happened before.
Meanwhile, much of the central part of the state had a very wet summer and fall. If you look back at the last 6 months (third map), the only areas of the state with deficits are in far northern and far southern Illinois.
Bottom line – it has been a dry winter so far. Should we be worried? No, not yet. We are watching for impacts but nothing significant has developed yet. If you see any impacts in your area such as low farm ponds, dry soils, or abnormally low well levels, please let me know. Thanks.