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  • A wet and wild January finally brings winter to Illinois

    Mild weather carried over from December into January in Illinois, when frigid temperatures and winter storms hit mid-month. Rain and snowfall in January took a big bite out of drought in the state, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey.  January precipitation tied for the eighth wettest January on record.

  • Cultivating Innovation: The Intersection of Geography, Climate, and Agricultural Research in Illinois

    Since its inception in 2008, the Prairie Research Institute has conducted long-term monitoring of Illinois’ water, soil, and climate. These data, including growing and pest degree days, soil temperature and moisture, water table levels, and in-stream sediment, are used every day by thousands of Illinoisans and by the state’s agriculture, renewable energy, and construction industries.

  • December average temperature in top three for Illinois

    Preliminary reports showed that December 2023 was the third warmest December on record, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey.

  • November puts an end to a warmer and drier fall

    The average statewide temperature was above the 30-year average in November, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the Illinois State Water Survey. Precipitation was 2.34 inches below average, making it the eighth driest of that month on record. 

  • well water

    Coming soon: new hotline, website, and maps on private wells

    A new hotline, website, and other resources will soon be available through the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) for private well and septic system owners and the water professionals that serve them. 

  • A warming climate is evident in new winter plant hardiness map

    Changes in the new 2023 US Department of Agriculture’s plant hardiness map are strong evidence of global warming.

  • A mild October had a chilly end

    Most of October in Illinois had above average temperatures, until a weather shift in the last few days of the month brought a shockingly cold Halloween and even snow in some areas, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the Illinois State Water Survey. 

  • Illinois soils are cooling in the first half of October

    Soil temperatures have fallen 10 to 20 degrees so far in October, which is normal for this time of year.

  • Illinois drought impacts continue into the fall

    Drought intensified again in Illinois at the end of the growing season, increasing the risk of fire and blowing dust as harvest approaches. River levels have also dropped near or below low stage, leading to navigation concerns.

  • Illinois soils are cooler and drier in mid-September

    Cooler weather in the past week has led to lower soil temperatures throughout the state in mid-September.


  • August wrapped up a mild and drier summer in Illinois

    The heatwave in late August was intense, but the average temperature and rainfall for the month were nearly normal based on long-term records, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the Illinois State Water Survey. Likewise, the summer season temperature was within 1 degree of normal with slightly drier conditions. 

  • Road salt

    ISWS wins Salt Symposium Chloride Reduction Leadership award

    Starting in the late 1990s, the ISWS began assessing groundwater quality data in the Chicago region to determine how chloride concentrations might be increasing with time due to road deicing applications. It turns out almost all water resources in the region are being impacted. Because of these efforts and increased awareness, various counties and municipalities in the region now practice sensible salting, including pre-application of brines and training of operators. 

  • soils in cornfield

    Illinois soils have cooled in mid-August

    A change in weather has cooled soils across Illinois in mid-August, according to Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) program manager at the Illinois State Water Survey.

  • July brought sweetcorn…and floods, drought, heat, smoke, and tornadoes

    In one month, Illinoisans experienced severe heat, lingering drought and flash floods, strong storms, and poor air quality. This was not your typical July, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the Illinois State Water Survey. 

  • Students take on watershed project in summer internship

    College students in a summer internship program at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) are developing new skills in geographic information system (GIS) learning while tackling ways to map Illinois streamflow more accurately to inform soil conservation efforts. This on-the-job training will better prepare students for future studies and their careers.

  • Soil moisture has improved in Illinois

    Illinois has received 3.41 inches of rain in the first half of July, 1.6 inches more than in the entire month of June, and leading to higher soil moisture across the state. 

  • Journal issue highlights the Water Survey’s past and present accomplishments

    The Illinois State Water Survey’s (ISWS) research and history highlights are featured in the June issue of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA), showcasing the importance of the survey’s latest studies related to water issues, particularly in addressing today’s challenges, and commemorating its 125th anniversary. 

  • Water Survey to analyze flood risks in DeKalb County, Illinois

    Illinois State Water Survey hydrologic and hydraulic modeling in DeKalb County, Illinois, is underway as part of a study to help local communities identify areas of high flood risk for flood mitigation planning. The first phase of the project, data collection, is anticipated to begin in July 2023 and be completed in early fall 2023. In this phase, surveyors will conduct detailed channel and bridge surveys of streams in or near the community of Sycamore.

  • A dry June prolonged Illinois’ drought

    Dry weather from April to June has caused the most serious drought in Illinois since 2012, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the Illinois State Water Survey. In June, crop conditions worsened, and the air quality at the end of the month was the worst the state has seen in years.

  • momcilo markus

    Momcilo Markus named Head of the Watershed Science Section

    Markus specializes in hydrological forecasting and artificial neural networks. His work on the effects of climate change and urbanization on water resources, statistical evaluation of streamflow and water quality networks, stochastic modeling for load estimation, data mining, and hydrologic flood frequency analyses has contributed to the development of the National Weather Service River Forecast System.

  • Illinois drought and soil moisture conditions worsen in mid-June

    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.

  • Drought takes hold after a warm and dry May

    The typical May showers were largely absent for most of Illinois, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the Illinois State Water Survey. Most of the state ended the month between 1 and 4 inches drier than normal, with drought conditions affecting soil moisture and streamflow. 

  • Increased risk of drought conditions in Illinois

    Weather conditions have been dry in the past four to six weeks in parts of northeastern, western, and central Illinois. Forecasts for the next 7 to 10 days show very dry weather and above normal temperatures, which will likely worsen already dry conditions in the state and potentially cause rapid-onset drought conditions in some areas.

  • Jo Daviess County alfalfa crop pattern in 2012

    Database reveals locations of sinkholes, crevices, and mines in Jo Daviess County

    A new database compiling information from a decade of Prairie Research Institute (PRI) studies on the unique geology and hydrology of Jo Daviess County is designed to help residents and officials understand the karst features of the land where they live and to better protect their water supply from surface contamination.

  • Illinois April temperatures were a roller coaster of highs and lows

    April gave Illinoisans a taste of summer in the first half of the month, only to revert to winter-like conditions in the last week of the month. Overall, average temperatures were slightly above normal in April and precipitation was nearly 1.5 inches below normal with a record-setting dry week, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the Illinois State Water Survey.

  • Dr. Misganaw Demissie

    Remembering Dr. Misganaw "Mike" Demissie 1949 - 2023

    The PRI family recently lost one of our own, Dr. Misganaw (known to many as Mike) Demissie, who made a positive difference worldwide through his work and made a lasting impression on the legacy of the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS). Demissie passed away on April 20, 2023.

  • Illinois soil temperatures are cooler than normal in mid-April

    Cooler weather in mid-April has caused Illinois soil temperatures to fall.

  • Laura Keefer

    Laura Keefer named Deputy Director of the Water Survey

    Keefer has more than 37 years of experience in multi-scale watershed monitoring and assessments of hydrology, nutrients and sediment for many Illinois watersheds, as well as studying erosion and sedimentation processes related to stream channel stability issues. In addition to her role as Deputy Director, Keefer serves as the Illinois State Hydrologist, providing science-based information on watersheds, rivers, groundwater, and other state water resources and leverages the expertise of PRI staff on statewide water issues, such as flooding and contamination. Laura has represented the Water Survey as an advisor on dozens of committees ranging from watershed planning to state and federal interagency task forces to resolve hydrologic, sediment, and nutrient watershed issues. 

  • Online tool estimates nitrogen availability for crop fields

    An atmospheric scientist at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) is perfecting his online and Android app decision-support tool that helps farmers schedule applications based on real-time nitrogen availability in local soils.

  • March started the spring season with rain and storms

    In his blog, State Climatologist Trent Ford describes the March weather conditions in Illinois.

  • CoCoRaHS logo

    Backyard weather observers contribute to science

    Whether you enjoy watching the weather or hope for more accurate local forecasts, reading a rain gauge in your own backyard as a volunteer to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow (CoCoRaHS) network can make a big contribution to spot-on forecasts and studies of precipitation and climate, according to Trent Ford, Illinois State Climatologist at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS).

  • Illinois’ mild winter might benefit insect pests this spring

    Above normal air temperatures this winter kept Illinois average soil temperatures higher than usual. These mild conditions are favorable for insect pests that overwinter in Illinois, but many other factors will affect insect populations for the upcoming growing season, according to scientists at the Prairie Research Institute (PRI), a part of the University of Illinois.

  • Mild February wraps up a weak winter

    February in Illinois was particularly mild, ending a winter season that was 2 to 6 degrees above normal, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey. February also brought wetter weather to the state.

  • Warmer January temperatures nearly broke records

    Illinois temperatures were above normal in January, preliminarily ranking the month as the sixth warmest on record, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey.

  • Water Survey to analyze flood risks in eight east-central and southeastern Illinois counties

    Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) crews are starting to collect data within the Embarras River watershed as part of a multiple-phase hydrologic and hydraulic study to help local communities identify areas of high flood risk for flood mitigation planning. Results from the new study will be used to update the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), which typically depict the 1 percent and 0.2 percent annual-chance floodplains.

  • PRI water and climate experts take part in new State Water Plan and its goals

    Scientists at the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) have contributed their expertise and data on multiple water issues to inform the newly released 2022 Illinois State Water Plan, which serves as an advisory to address water-related challenges for the next seven years. PRI will also play an integral part in reaching the plan’s goals, particularly in developing an Illinois Integrated Water Information Center, a portal to water science information and technology in Illinois.

  • State Climatologist describes December's cold snap and warm up

    The extreme temperatures and wind chill values that Illinoisans experienced before the holidays are very unusual for late December, only occurring in northern and central Illinois once every 20 to 25 years. In the last week of the month, high temperatures ranged from the low 50s to mid-60s, between 10 and 25 degrees above normal.

  • Big temperature swings in November, wrapping up an otherwise mild fall

    Temperature swings in November were extreme in Illinois with slightly cooler than normal temperatures overall, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey. Meanwhile, most of the state had drier than normal conditions, which extended the dry streak in summer and fall. Near to above normal snowfall fell across the state.

     

  • Water Survey to analyze flood risks in McHenry County, Illinois

    Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) hydrologic and hydraulic modeling in McHenry County, Illinois, is underway as part of a study to help local communities identify areas of high flood risk for flood mitigation planning.

  • October brought real fall to Illinois this year

    October in 2021 was warm and rainy, putting a damper on fall festivities in Illinois, but this year’s October did not disappoint fall lovers, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey. Temperatures and precipitation were below average.

  • Water Survey receives grant to sample wells in disadvantaged areas of Chicago

    Evan Rea, head of the Health and Environmental Applications Laboratory (HEAL) at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (U. of I.), was recently awarded a grant by the U. of I. Chancellor’s Office to sample private wells in the Chicago metro area. The Chancellor’s Call to Action to Address Racism & Social Injustice Research Program provides $2 million annually to U. of I. researchers to support projects that address systematic racism and social justice, law enforcement and criminal justice reform, and disparities in health and health care.

  • September brought mild, dry conditions to Illinois

    Illinoisans experienced mild temperatures in the first half of September, followed by summer-like conditions and then a cooler week to finish off the month, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey. The average state rainfall amount was slightly below normal.

  • Illinois soil temperatures are cool in mid-September

    Soil temperatures fell during the first two weeks of September as cooler weather moved into the state. 

  • State Climatologist: A mild August wraps up summer in Illinois

    Mild temperatures in August this year in Illinois followed a heatwave in May, above average temperatures in June, and a cooler July.

  • Illinois soils are cooler in mid-August

    Cooler weather has led to lower soil temperatures in the first half of August in Illinois, according to Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) program manager at the Illinois State Water Survey.

  • Eric R. Larson and Sally McConkey standing in the U. of I.’s Red Oak Rain Garden. Photo by Fred Zwicky

    How do we measure community disaster resilience?

    In a new study, retired Illinois State Water Survey engineer Sally McConkey and Eric R. Larson, a professor of natural resources and environmental sciences, examined the metrics used at a county scale for national assessments to determine whether communities are prepared to withstand and recover from natural disasters such as floods and fires. 

  • State Climatologist: July brought its typical calamity in Illinois

    Rain inundated the south-central and northern parts of Illinois in July, causing flooding, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey.

  • Scientists to build toolkit addressing climate change and environmental justice in Chicago communities

    With new funding from NASA, a University of Illinois team of scientists will use NASA Earth science and localized social data to develop an innovative, multi-sector geospatial environmental justice toolkit for urban decision making in the Chicago region.

  • Leaves turn at Volo Bog Nature Preserve in the fall. Photo credit: Bill Batalden

    Groundwater experts help industries and nature preserves thrive

    The ISGS and ISWS began monitoring the intersections between industry and the state-protected nature preserves in 1998, letting science and groundwater testing lead the way. Then-graduate student Randy Locke embarked on what was intended to be a two-year groundwater monitoring project; that project is now in its 24th year and has expanded to 414 dedicated nature preserves across 62,270 acres in Illinois.

  • Illinois’ June weather was hotter and drier than average

    June temperatures in Illinois were above normal with a prolonged heat wave mid-month, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey. The rainfall was below normal for June.