In the July 24th issuance of the US Drought Monitor, a small portion of central and north central Illinois were upgraded to extreme drought (D3) conditions The last time extreme drought conditions existed in our area was from July 2005 until late January 2006. Below is a side-by-side comparison of the US Drought Monitor map from July 26, 2005 and the July 24th, 2012 map. To perform your own side-by-side comparison of this year's drought versus other dates going back to January 4, 2000, visit this link.
Notice that although a larger area in northern Illinois was included in extreme drought conditions around the same time in July in 2005, the percentage of the US covered in drought conditions was dramatically less than 2012! Incredibly, 64% of the country is in at least moderate (D1) drought conditions as of July 24th, 2012, whereas in late July 2005, just under 30% of the country was experiencing at least moderate drought conditions. Therefore, the 2005 drought, while significant in northern Illinois and northwest Indiana, was more of a regional event, whereas the 2012 drought is truly on a national scale.
For more information on the current drought conditions in northern Illinois and northwest Indiana, please visit our Drought Briefing Page.