CHAMPAIGN, Ill. 6/15/23: Northeastern and central Illinois are now experiencing severe drought, as dry conditions persist across the state in the second week of June, causing soil moisture levels to drop and record-low water levels in some areas of the Illinois River.
Also, corn and soybeans in parts of southwestern, central, and northeastern Illinois are showing signs of slow growth, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford and Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) program manager at the Illinois State Water Survey.
The U.S. Drought Monitor considers the drought severe in the Chicagoland area and all of Peoria. Most of the state north of Interstate 70 is in abnormal drought, as is much of the St. Louis Metro east area. Southern Illinois remains abnormally dry.
Beneficial rain fell in some parts of Illinois in the first week of June, but rainfall totals were less than 1 inch, which is not enough to improve drought conditions, Ford said.
Reports across the state indicate lawns are browning or going dormant, gardens, shrubs, and small trees require frequent watering, and mature trees are beginning to show stress. Streamflow is near the record low at a few places on the Illinois River, including Henry and Valley City.
“Crop reports indicate corn and soybeans are showing some stress, but the overall feeling is that the yield potential has not been significantly affected at this point,” Ford said. “Pasture conditions have declined to a larger extent than row crops, and there are some concerns about hay yield and quality moving forward.”
Soil moisture remains low for most of Illinois in mid-June with continued drying in the top 20 inches of soils, Atkins said. Parts of southern Illinois saw improvement after the rain last weekend with moisture levels at 4 inches increasing 9 percent. However, soil moisture continues to decline in the central and northern regions as levels are at or just above the wilting points for most of the soils monitored.
In the north, soil moisture at 8 inches declined 14 percent so far in June with several monitoring stations reporting levels at their wilting point. Although moisture levels at 20 inches are higher, all regions showed an 8 percent or greater decline in the past two weeks. At 39- and 59-inch depths, however, the soil moisture remains high, showing little change so far in June.
Cooler weather has caused soil temperatures to fall 5 degrees in the past week to a state average of 70 degrees at 4 inches under bare soil. Temperatures are 9 degrees cooler than last year and 4 degrees cooler than the historical average. Daily highs reached the 80s with lows in the 50s and 60s.
Outlooks for June
The most recent 7-day precipitation forecast from the National Weather Service shows more rain for the southern half of the state, with widespread chances of 1 to 1.5 inches in the next week. Less accumulation is forecast for central and northern Illinois, with totals mostly less than half an inch.
The outlooks for the latter half of June show the highest chances of near normal rainfall and above normal temperatures.
“Warmer weather could quicken impacts through higher evaporation, but even near normal precipitation in late June would help reduce impacts as we move into the heart of the growing season,” Ford said.
Ford requests that Illinoisans report their local drought conditions and effects through the National Drought Mitigation Center’s Condition Monitoring Observer Report (CMOR) system or by email to the State Climatologist Office, email@example.com. These reports inform our understanding of drought and can direct resources where they are needed in Illinois. Visit the Illinois State Climatologist Office website for up-to-date information on drought conditions.
Visit the Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) website for detailed information on soil moisture and temperatures. The Illinois State Water Survey is part of the Prairie Research Institute.
Illinois State Water Survey Media Contacts: Trent Ford, 217-333-0729, firstname.lastname@example.org; http://stateclimatologist.web.illinois.edu/; Jennie Atkins, 217-333-4966, email@example.com