Despite a recent drizzly day or two, Chicago remains parched, with the National Weather Service now moving the metro area into the “severe” drought category.
“Severe” is the third of the agency’s five escalating ratings. Among the impacts: crop or pasture losses are likely and fire risk is very high.
According to the agency, since April 1, just 2.72 inches of rain have been recorded at Chicago’s Midway Airport. That’s 7 inches below the 30-year average and the second lowest since the early 1900s.
While the entire state is considered either “abnormally dry” or in “moderate” drought, the Chicago metro area — including Cook, DuPage, Will and Lake counties — has received notably less precipitation.
“The last time such a large part of our area was in this category was during the drought of summer 2012,” the weather service noted on social media.
The effects are visible. Lawns have gone dormant, trees and shrubs are showing stress, and streamflow levels for June are at some of the lowest recorded, according to the agency’s drought report.
There’s little relief in the short-term forecast, with dry and warm conditions expected over the next seven days. If rain does materialize, it isn’t likely to deliver the much needed widespread soaking.
The drought is being caused by an unusually persistent “blocking” pattern that started in April, which is preventing deep moisture from the Gulf of Mexico from reaching the Great Lakes, the weather service said.
The drought across the area continues to worsen, with portions of our area now in the "Severe" category. Much of our area has seen less than 25% of the normal rainfall in the past 30 days, and the long-range forecasts do not look favorable widespread, soaking rain. #ILwx #INwx pic.twitter.com/7vQVkuR92C
— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) June 15, 2023