Drought beginning to have long term impacts

This year marked the second consecutive year with a drier than average growing season.
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 5:32 PM CST
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QUINCY (WGEM) - Despite Monday’s beneficial rain, the drought continues across the Midwest.

This year marked the second consecutive year with a drier than average growing season.

Autumn continued that trend, with a near record dry November until Monday.

Illinois state climatologist Trent Ford said the past year itself was close to record breaking dry.

“This last water year, which we measure water years from October first to September 30th because that’s kind of how the hydrological cycle works as opposed to the calendar year, this last water year in Quincy was a top five driest on record and of course that record goes back, stitched together with different stations, back to the 1800′s,” Ford said.

Quincy is not alone, with all of Western Illinois being severely impacted.

“Western Illinois has been consistently dry. Much of Adams County, Pike County, even over to Schuyler, even up to Warren and Henderson counties, those places have been much drier than normal, even going back to the beginning of 2021,” Ford said.

All of this dry time is beginning to have an impact on ground water tables in the region.

“And our deeper layer soil moisture, so we’re thinking anywhere between let’s say 50 to maybe 100 inches deep, so well below where a lot of our roots are going for our annual plants, we’re at dryness levels there in many places that we haven’t seen since 2012 or even before that,” Ford said.

Ford said many farmers have gotten lucky over the last two years with just enough timely rains in July and August to help the crops.

If the deeper soil moisture continues its drying trend, it could mean another dry growing season is more likely.

However, the exact level of drought will be determined by rainfall totals throughout the upcoming winter, spring and summer.

It is too early to get an accurate gauge of what the next warm season holds, but there is a strong signal of an El Niño in the upcoming winter which usually means a milder and drier winter than average.

Ford said it is too early to get alarmed about a more severe drought potential and potential impacts to crops and water resources, the situation is worth keeping an eye on.

He said one of the best ways for people to help with drought monitoring is by reporting what they see online.

Anyone can submit their drought observations on a weekly, semi-weekly or monthly basis to the National Drought Mitigation Center.

You can send in your drought observations by clicking here.

Missouri Drought Alert

The drought also continues to be a major concern across the state of Missouri as well, with Governor Parson signing an executive order to extend the drought alert for 60 counties.

This includes Scotland, Clark, Knox, Lewis, Marion, Shelby, Ralls and Monroe counties locally.

The new drought alert continues through May 1, 2024, unless extended further by a subsequent order.

The latest drought monitor for the Midwest can be found here.

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