The US Drought Monitor has placed portions of Illinois in a moderate drought this week.
Are we really in drought? The signals are mixed. Certainly rainfall has been lacking, especially in the last 90 days. The map below shows rainfall that is 4 to 6 inches below average in a band across central Illinois. However, we just came off record rainfall in June, and near-average rainfall in the July-August period.
As of now, both the corn and soybeans crops are harvested so they have mostly escaped the negative impacts of recent dry weather. In fact, the warm, dry weather probably aided in speeding up crop maturity and drydown, as well as not hampering field work. However, there has been a rash of field fires in the last few weeks, aided by high winds and low relative humidity. The only other negative effects of the dry weather could be on the emergence and growth of winter wheat and on pasture lands.
River, streams, lakes, and most wells are still in good shape. Personally, I would have preferred that they had kept us at D0 “abnormally dry” until we started to see significant impacts. If you hear of impacts in Illinois, please let me know.
In the meantime, the Water Survey will continue to monitor water resources around the state. You can see our monthly assessments of soil moisture, stream flows, lake levels, and well levels at http://www.isws.illinois.edu/warm/climate.asp