Now 13th Driest October on Record in Illinois

The rains of the past few days have moved us from the 2nd driest October on record to the 13th driest October on record. The statewide total is now 1.24 inches, 2″ below average.

The Illinois State Water Survey soil moisture network shows a nice recovery at the 2 and 4-inch depths. However, dry conditions remain at the 8-inch depth at most locations. This should be good news for winter wheat and pasture. 

Fraction of water by volume.
Fraction of water by volume at 2 inches for October 28, 2015. I know, odd units to understand. For most of our soils, values less than 0.3 are dry, values of 0.3 to 0.4 are good, and values above 0.4 are wet. Havana in the center of the state is our special case – a sandy soil that holds little water. 

Rain At Last in Illinois

Here is the rainfall map for the past 7 days. Most of the rain in Illinois has come in the last 2 days of that mapping period. In fact, almost all the rain in October for Illinois has fallen in the last 2 days.

Most of Illinois was in the two lighter shades of green, indicating rainfall amount of between 0.5 and 1.5 inches. There is a hole in southwestern Illinois (blue) were rainfall amounts were less than 0.5 inches. Higher amounts of 2 or more inches just missed Illinois, and fell across the border in Kentucky and southern Indiana.

It looks like we have one last shot of rain in October on Saturday.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Second Driest October on Record for Illinois, But Not for Long

As of this morning, the statewide average precipitation in Illinois was 0.34 inches. That makes it the second driest October on record. However, the forecast for Tuesday will move us down in the rankings. In the meantime, here is where we stand for dry Octobers:

Rank Year Amount Departure Percent of Average
1 1964 0.18 -3.06 6%
2 2015 0.34 -2.90 11%
3 1897 0.46 -2.78 14%
4 1908 0.50 -2.78 15%
5 1895 0.60 -2.64 19%
6 1952 0.67 -2.57 21%
7 1904 0.71 -2.53 22%
8 1956 0.72 -2.52 22%
9 1915 0.83 -2.41 26%
10 1963 0.93 -2.31 29%

First Freeze of Season Hits Illinois

Over the weekend, most areas of the state saw their first taste of 32 degrees or colder. Here are the maps from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center showing that the almost the entire state was covered. A few places in the Chicago area may have escaped thanks to the so-called Urban Heat Island (UHI) – lots of warm surfaces like roads, asphalt parking lots, roofs, and waste heat from buildings. For example, O’Hare AP reached 33 degrees. Meanwhile, Mt. Carroll in northwest Illinois reported 20 degrees on October 18. Now that’s cold.


October Warm and Dry So Far in Illinois

October has been both warmer and drier than average so far for Illinois.

Temperatures have run 1 to 2 degrees above average in Illinois and across most of the Midwest (first map). This follows close on the heels of a September that is now considered the 8th warmest on record at 70.4 degrees according to NCEI.


Meanwhile, precipitation has been largely missing in action in October (map below). The areas in gray across Iowa, and parts of surrounding states indicate almost no measurable precipitation has fallen. It’s hard to tell on this map because of the scale, but most of Illinois has received less a tenth of an inch for the month so far. The statewide average is 0.05 inches.   Continue reading

The Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2015 in Illinois

I have received several calls already about the shortage of pumpkins in Illinois. This pertains not only to the decorative ones seen everywhere, but especially for the processed varieties grown around Morton Illinois. Time Magazine had a short article saying that 90% of the processed pumpkin production comes from Illinois and that they expect a one-third drop in production this year. Here is an excellent article describing pumpkin production in Illinois.

What Happened?

The primary cause of the current shortage is the record-setting precipitation in June. It didn’t help that May and July were wetter than average as well. Statewide, the average precipitation in June was 9.43 inches, 5.33 inches above average and the wettest June on record. In the map below, amounts of 5 to 10 inches (shades of blue) were common across the state. Continue reading