The forecast for the Memorial Day weekend calls for mostly sunny skies with no chance of rain — and that’s a problem.
If current predictions hold, Chicago isn’t expected to receive any rain through the end of the month, which means the total precipitation for May will be .42 inches, as measured at O’Hare International Airport.
That’s a far cry from totals in 2018-20, when Chicago set records three years in a row for the wettest May, including the reigning high-water mark of 9.51 inches in 2021. Normal precipitation for the month is 4.49 inches.
This year’s scant tally would be the second driest May since record keeping began in 1871; in May 1992, just .3 inches fell. In no other year has May seen less than a half-inch of rain, and only seven times in history has rainfall for the month totaled less than an inch.
The dry stretch has led to what’s known as a flash drought, or a rapid onset of drought conditions, according to meteorologist Zachary Yack, of the National Weather Service’s Chicago office.
Things might look green at the moment, he said, but they may start to brown.
Anyone grilling, setting off fireworks or enjoying a backyard fire pit should be aware of the dry conditions and watch flames carefully, Yack said.
A persistent dry pattern may continue into early June. As a result, a flash drought appears to be developing especially in northeastern Illinois where soaking rain hasn’t occurred since early April. Be careful with open flames during the holiday weekend! #ILwx #INwx pic.twitter.com/FCeKRho0AZ
— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) May 23, 2023