Wet Spring Dispels Drought in Illinois, Illinois State Water Survey

Press Release

For Immediate Release May 3, 2006
Wet Spring Dispels Drought in Illinois
Source:    Jim Angel - (217) 333-0729, Fax: (217) 244-0220, jimangel@illinois.edu

While Illinois is still not completely out of the woods, recent Rainfall throughout Illinois in the months of March and April has all but eliminated the state's drought status according to the Illinois State Water Survey, a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

"Receiving above-normal rainfall in March and April means that the drought in northern and western Illinois has ended," says Illinois State Water Survey Chief Derek Winstanley.

While long-term precipitation deficits remain in that area, sub-surface soil moisture, streams, and shallow groundwater have largely returned to near-normal levels, according to the latest Water Survey drought update (http://www.sws.uiuc.edu/hilites/drought/). Preliminary data for Illinois indicate that 4.08 inches of precipitation fell in April, 0.28 inches above normal. Precipitation for the first four months of 2006 is at 12.34 inches, which is 1.47 inches above normal.

"It's appears the status of water resources through out the state has improved significantly," said Drought Taskforce Chairman Gary Clark. "We are more encouraged that the state will be able to get through the upcoming summer months with out the need for further water conservation restrictions."

The statewide preliminary April mean temperature of 56.7 degrees was 4.5 degrees above normal, and the 9th warmest on record since 1895. The statewide temperature for 2006 is 41.8 degrees, 4.6 degrees above normal, and the 4th warmest January-April on record since 1895.

Temperature extremes ranged from 92°F at Hutsonville on April 16 to 21°F at Mt. Carroll on April 9. Palestine reported the heaviest one-day precipitation, 4.04 inches on April 17 and Riverton reported the highest monthly total, 7.85 inches.

"Besides the return to a more active weather pattern this spring, the La Niña event in the Pacific Ocean has weakened significantly," says State Climatologist Jim Angel. "La Niña occurs when abnormally cold water is present along the equator in the eastern portion of the Pacific Ocean basin. These cold waters modify the weather patterns over the Pacific, which in turn modify the weather patterns over the United States."

Illinois is typically under a higher risk for hot and dry summer weather during La Nina events. The fact that water temperatures along the equator have returned to near-normal conditions is good news. In addition, historical analysis indicates that a wet March-April slightly reduces the chances of the below-normal precipitation occurring during the growing season (May-August). The recovery this spring has been remarkable and there are no indications of an increased risk for drought this summer.

The drought taskforce will meet again on May 24th to assess water supply's state wide and will make any necessary recommendations at that time.

For the latest complete Drought Taskforce report, go to http://www.sws.uiuc.edu/hilites/drought/

Released simultaneously by Illinois Department of Natural Resources

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