2005-2006 Drought Ends for Northern Illinois and Indiana

2005-2006 Drought Ends for Northern Illinois & Northwestern Indiana
 
Since early in 2005, northern Illinois and northwestern Indiana had drought conditions present until this past week. The long term drought that had left most of the region with deficits of over 10 inches for the 2005 year have been mitigated by 4 months of above or near normal precipitation conditions. Some farmers have mentioned that it has almost been too wet that they cannot get into their fields and plant. Also, with La Nina fading in the Pacific, the dry conditions that had been anticipated for the summer will most likely return to a normal pattern. 
 
The May 4th release of the drought monitor indicates that drought conditions have completely receded for all of northern Illinois as above or near normal rainfall has occurred with an active weather pattern over the past 4 months. There was even flooding in portions of northern Illinois on Easter weekend. Even though the precipitation has technically ended the drought, the long term deficit of precipitation from 2005 was fairly substantial and a quick return to drought conditions could happen if there is an extended period of below normal precipitation. All D0 “Abnormally Dry” conditions have been removed from northern Illinois. Some dry conditions are still present in a small portion of far northeastern Illinois along Lake Michigan, but this area was smaller than the domain that the Drought Monitor typically looks at.
 
 U.S. Drought Monitor
 
The U.S. drought monitor is a weekly collaborative
Effort between a number of federal agencies such as:
NOAA/NWS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the
National Drought Mitigation Center.
 
 
Palmer Drought Severity Index
 
 
Soil moisture conditions:
 
As of May 4th, the Midwest Regional Climate Center indicated a soil moisture deviation to a depth of 72 inches ranging from one to two inches in surplus over northern Illinois and northeastern Indiana stemming from the above normal precipitation over the past 4 months.
 
 Current Soil Moisture Deviation
 
 
Agricultural impacts:
 
Days suitable for fieldwork 4.9. Topsoil 3% very short, 14% short, 68% adequate and 15% surplus. Oats 96% planted, 98% 2005, 94% avg. Alfalfa 5% cut, 2% 2005, 1% avg. Red Clover 3% cut, 1% 2005, 0% avg. Alfalfa condition 2% poor, 16% fair, 62% good, 20% excellent. Red Clover condition 2% poor, 15% fair, 72% good, 11% excellent. Pasture condition 1% very poor, 2% poor, 19% fair, 63% good, 15% excellent. Planting conditions were almost ideal which allowed farmers to make up for lost time. Almost 40 percent of the state’s corn acerage was planted last week. Temperatures were slightly below normal, and much needed rains across most of the state replenished soil moisture. Besides planting corn, farmers were busy last week with cutting hay, spraying chemicals, tending livestock, and preparing to plant beans.
 
Long Range Outlooks:
 
In the short term, zonal flow will result in mainly dry conditions over the next week. A shortwave trough could provide a chance of some light rain Monday night into Tuesday.
 
May 12th through May 18th: the 8 to 14 day outlook issued by the Climate Prediction Center indicates 40-50% chances of below normal temperatures, but shows equal chances of above normal, near normal or below normal precipitation with the exception of far northeastern Illinois where there is slightly higher chances for above normal precipitation.
The outlook for the month of May indicates equal chances of having above normal, near normal and below normal precipitation and temperatures for northern Illinois and Indiana. Additionally, the May through July 90-day outlook indicates equal chances of having above normal, near normal, and below normal temperatures and precipitation.
 
 
 
Climatological Summary:
 
Over the past 90 days (February 4th through May 4th), a precipitation surplus of zero to two inches is present across all of northeastern Illinois and northwestern Indiana. 
 
Here are some specific statistics (in inches) for the past 8 months in cities across the area:
 
Station
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
Total
Sep 1-Apr 30
Departure from
Normal
O’Hare
2.66
1.39
2.31
1.36
2.76
1.80
2.70
3.59
18.59
-2.54
Rockford
1.86
0.24
2.63
1.00
2.98
0.66
4.05
4.60
18.02
-1.47
Romeoville
2.30
0.35
2.04
1.40
3.11
1.22
3.30
4.77
18.49
n/a*
Aurora
1.67
0.44
2.42
1.07
2.63
1.54
2.30
4.18
16.25
-5.00
Marseilles
2.46
0.46
2.76
1.31
2.65
1.39
3.19
4.38
18.60
-2.51
Lowell, IN
3.11
0.88
2.65
1.19
2.55
0.78
2.34
3.42
16.92
-6.26
 
*Normal precipitation data for Romeoville is not available since station is less than 30 years old.
 
What was the reason for the drought?
 
During the spring and summer seasons, several Canadian high pressure systems moved across the great lakes and upper Mississippi Valley. This type of set up brings in dry Canadian air. In addition, an upper level ridge of high pressure has been persistent over the Great Plains and Midwest, which brought spells of dry and very warm weather to the region. On a few occasions when potential storm-producing fronts did traverse the area, they arrived late at night and in the morning hours when the atmosphere is cooler, more stable, and less conducive to producing rain. During the fall season and December, there were a few systems that have moved through the area, but none of them provided enough precipitation to put a dent into the deficit. January was the first month since last winter to be above normal for precipitation for most of the region, but since the long term conditions of below normal precipitation are so drastic, it has done little to improve drought conditions. February started out with above normal amounts of precipitation, but then averaged out and the month ended up being around normal for most of the region. March and April were near or above normal for precipitation for the region, which has helped significantly for agricultural  and hydrological reasons.
 
Did you know…?
 
         Droughts are natural events that occur in nearly all climate zones but with widely variable characteristics.
         Drought is a deviation from climate and is quite different from an arid region with low annual precipitation.
         While droughts can be defined as a climate phenomenon, their impacts on humans and the environment can be extreme.
         Droughts occur on time scales which are greater than those of weather-related catastrophes such as hurricane, tornados or floods.
         Because of the longer time scales, droughts are responsible for the largest economic losses of all weather-related events
 
Drought for kids…
 
  • If you are a kid and interested in the drought, check out this web page for any information on droughts:
    • http://www.drought.unl.edu/kids/
 
Questions or comments:
 
If you have any questions or comments concerning this drought information or if you have information about the drought from your area, please contact:
 
Tim Halbach
Climate Services Focal Point
National Weather Service
Romeoville, IL 60446
 


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