Drought Report for Central and Southeast Illinois

Final Update:  12/26/2013

By:  Chris Geelhart, Meteorologist 


Heavy precipitation over the southeast third of Illinois during the last two weeks helped to eliminate any lingering drought in that area.  The area that remains in drought continues to shrink.  According to the December 24 issuance of the U.S. Drought Monitor, severe drought conditions continue in a small portion of central Illinois, mainly affecting De Witt, eastern Logan, northern Macon, and northern Piatt counties.  Moderate drought was affecting areas from Bloomington to Winchester, eastward to near Champaign.  

As agricultural activities have ended, and little change in drought typically occurs during the winter, this will be the last routine update of the local drought report.  The U.S. Drought Monitor will continue to be updated weekly, and local drought updates will be resumed in early March if needed, or earlier if the drought worsens.

Latest Drought Monitor Graphics: 

U.S. Drought Monitor   U.S. Drought Monitor, Illinois sector

Specific categories are as follows:

D4 (Exceptional Drought) -- No counties are considered to be in exceptional drought.

D3 (Extreme Drought) -- No counties are considered to be in extreme drought.

D2 (Severe Drought) -- De Witt, Logan, Macon, and Piatt counties.

D1 (Moderate Drought) -- Champaign, Christian, McLean, Menard, Morgan, Moultrie, Sangamon and Scott counties.

D0 (Abnormally Dry) -- Cass, Douglas, Fulton, Knox, Mason, Schuyler, Stark, and Tazewell counties.

The U.S. Drought Monitor is a weekly collaborative effort between a number of agencies including NOAA/NWS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, state climatologists, and the National Drought Mitigation Center. Details and explanations of the Drought Monitor can found at the web site:


Note: Drought categories are based on broad-scale indicators over "climate districts" (the gray division lines on the U.S. map above). The Illinois map attempts to delineate the drought categories on a more regionalized map. Small-scale factors, such as localized heavy rain from thunderstorms, may affect the drought level over a small area, which may not necessarily be reflected in the maps above.

The categories of drought are defined as follows:

Abnormally Dry (D0) - Going into drought: short-term dryness slowing planting, growth of crops or pastures. Coming out of drought: some lingering water deficits; pastures or crops not fully recovered.

Moderate Drought (D1) - Some damage to crops, pastures; streams, reservoirs, or wells low, some water shortages developing or imminent, voluntary water use restrictions requested.

Severe Drought (D2) - Crop or pasture losses likely; water shortages common; water restrictions imposed.

Extreme Drought (D3) - Major crop/pasture losses; widespread water shortages or restrictions.

Exceptional Drought (D4) - Exceptional and widespread crop/pasture losses; shortages of water in reservoirs, streams, and wells, creating water emergencies.

The latest seasonal drought outlook from the Climate Prediction Center is available at the following web site:


Specific impacts from the drought are available on the Drought Impact Reporter at:


State and Local Government Actions:

Voluntary water conservation continues to be requested in Bloomington, Decatur, and Mount Zion.

Information from the Illinois Drought Response Task Force is available at:


Soil Moisture:

Calculated 0-4 inch soil moisture ranking, courtesy of Midwestern Regional Climate CenterCalculated 0-20 inch soil moisture ranking, courtesy of Midwestern Regional Climate Center

Analysis of soil moisture from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center in Champaign indicated that as of December 11, moisture levels in the top 4 inches of soil were generally a half to 1 inch below normal, but were around a quarfter to half inch below normal across the Illinois River valley.  In the top 20 inches, soil moisture levels of 2 to 4 inches below normal were occurring over most of central Illinois.  

Additional soil moisture maps are available at the MRCC's Drought Information Page:

the CPC's Crop Moisture Index page:

the University of Washington's Experimental Surface Water Monitor page:

and the NLADS Drought Monitor page:

Agricultural Impacts:

Agricultural activities have ended for the season.

Soil moisture supply measures how much moisture is present in cropland topsoil during the week. Soil moisture is reported as a percentage. The categories "very short", "short", "adequate", and "surplus" must add up to 100%.

Very Short -- Soil moisture supplies are significantly less than what is required for normal plant development. Growth has been stopped, or nearly so, and plants are showing visible signs of moisture stress. Under these conditions, plants will quickly suffer irreparable damage.

Short -- Soil dry. Seed germination and/or normal crop growth and development would be curtailed.

Adequate -- Soil moist. Seed germination and/or crop growth and development would be normal or unhindered.

Surplus -- Soil wet. Fields may be muddy and will generally be unable to absorb additional moisture. Young developing crops may be yellowing from excess moisture.

Additional details on crop conditions across Illinois are available at the USDA's Illinois Weather and Crop Information page at http://www.nass.usda.gov/


Climate Summary: 

Precipitation from past 7 days.  Image courtesy of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.  Click image to enlarge.

Observed precipitation last 30 days.  Image courtesy of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.  Click image to enlarge.

Precipitation Last 7 Days

Precipitation Last 30 Days

Precipitation over the last two weeks has generally ranged from 0.5 to 1.5 inches across the drought area.  Heavier amouns in excess of 2 inches, which generally occurred around December 20-21, helped eliminate lingering dry conditions east of I-57.

Here are some climate statistics as of December 25. 


(since 12/1)

vs Normal

August 1

vs Normal


2.79 inches

+0.21 inches

8.39 inches

-8.09 inches


3.80 inches

+1.50 inches

14.29 inches

-1.82 inches


1.96 inches

-0.29 inches

8.76 inches

-7.36 inches


1.08 inches

-0.84 inches

10.02 inches

-4.96 inches


1.32 inches

-0.98 inches

11.69 inches

-3.80 inches


0.69 inches

-1.41 inches

8.77 inches

-6.91 inches


1.51 inches

-0.66 inches

9.03 inches

-6.60 inches


1.66 inches

-0.60 inches

12.49 inches

-3.26 inches


2.81 inches

+0.36 inches

10.60 inches

-6.10 inches


1.47 inches

-0.55 inches

12.04 inches

-2.34 inches


1.60 inches

-0.50 inches

8.02 inches

-6.58 inches


2.16 inches

-0.08 inches

8.23 inches

-8.01 inches


The NWS in Lincoln generates maps each day of observed temperatures and rainfall. These can be accessed on our page by clicking on the "Temp/Precip Maps" option under Climate on the left menu bar, or click here.

An interactive precipitation analysis is available from NWS Headquarters at:

Additional climate maps and statistics are available at the Midwestern Regional Climate Center's (MRCC) Midwest Climate Watch page:

as well as the Illinois State Climatologist webpage at http://www.isws.illinois.edu/atmos/

Hydrologic Summary and Outlook: 

River and Stream Flow Conditions:

Average stream flows over the past week were running near normal in many areas, with some below  normal conditions across eastern portions of the Sangamon River valley.  

The following stream flow observations were measured Thursday, December 26.

Location Discharge
Long Term
Daily Discharge
Mean (CFS)

Illinois River

Henry 8,790 11,300
Kingston Mines 11,900 11,200
Valley City 10,500 14,099

Mackinaw River

Congerville 78 160
Green Valley 90 211

Sangamon River

Monticello 32 125
Decatur 0.47 263
Riverton 175 500
Oakford 562 1,320

Spoon River

London Mills 106 293
Seville 192 420

The following reservoir levels were measured on Thursday, December 26.

Location Observed Normal
Clinton Lake 688.55 feet Missing
Lake Decatur 610.53 feet 612.50 feet
Lake Springfield 556.85 feet 558.14 feet
Lake Shelbville 600.01 feet 599.70 feet

Hourly and forecast river stages out to 90 days can be found at the National Weather Service's (NWS) Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) web page:


Additional Current stream and river stages may be viewed at the following USGS Web Site:


Precipitation/Temperature Outlooks: 

Precipitation during the next week is expected to be less than a tenth inch, mainly in the form of light snow Sunday and New Year's Eve.  

The 8-14 day outlook, for the period of January 2-9, favors below normal temperatures, and below   normal precipitation.

The long range outlook for January through March does not favor any particular trend for temperatures or precipitation.

The seasonal drought outlook, issued December 19 and valid through the end of March, indicates that the lingering drought should continue to erode.   

7 day precipitation forecast from the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center

Seasonal drought outlook

7 Day Precipitation Outlook

Seasonal Drought Outlook

Precipitation forecasts for the next 7 days are available from the Weather Prediction Center (WPC) Web Site:


For updated temperature and precipitation probabilities consult the following Climate Prediction Center (CPC) Web Sites:

8 to 14 Day Outlook:


30 Day Outlook:


90 Day Outlook:



Questions or Comments:

If you have any questions or comments about this page, please contact:

Chris Geelhart
National Weather Service
1362 State Route 10
Lincoln, IL  62656

E-mail:  chris.geelhart@noaa.gov


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