After a wet start to the 2010 growing season, two areas of dryness have persisted in the last 60 days (see map below). The first area is far southern Illinois, where dry conditions extend back to June. The second, more recent area is in east-central Illinois. The hardest hit area appears to include parts of the following counties: McLean, Ford, Livingston, Iroquois, and Kankakee. Rainfall in that area has been between 25 and 75 percent of normal. Meanwhile, temperatures during that same period have run about 2.5 degrees above normal.
As expected, topsoil moisture in east-central Illinois has declined rapidly in recent weeks. According to the latest USDA NASS report, the “East” Crop Reporting District (CRD) in the heart of the dry area is showing that 35% of the fields sampled had “very short” and 48% of the fields had “short” topsoil moisture.
In southern Illinois, the percentages of fields with “very short” to “short” topsoil moisture are as follows:
East Southeast CRD: 16 % “very short” and 43% “short”
The NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) noted earlier this month that “La Niña conditions are expected to strengthen and last through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2010-11.” A La Niña occurs when abnormally cold waters develop along the equator of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. These changes in the ocean and atmosphere in turn influence the weather over the United States.
That feature is incorporated into the seasonal outlooks provided by the CPC. Right now they are calling for an increased chance of above normal temperatures this fall (September-November) across Illinois. Precipitation has an increased chance of being below normal in the southern two-thirds of Illinois.
For this winter (December-February), they call for an increased chance of above normal temperatures in the southern half of Illinois, with equal chances of above, below and near normal temperatures in the northern half of Illinois. They do call for an increased chance of above normal precipitation across all of Illinois and much of the Ohio River Valley. Updated official seasonal forecasts are posted mid-month here.
As of August 16, cooling degree days (CDD) are well above normal this year in Illinois. The statewide average is 1051 CDDs, which is 268 CDDs above normal or 134 percent of normal. Last year the statewide average through this date was only 640 CDDs.
Cooling Degree Day accumulations at selected cities.
Departure from Normal
Percent of Normal
Cooling degree days are calculated by subtracting the mean daily temperature by 65 degrees. Results above zero are accumulated over time. So if the mean temperature for the day was 75 degrees, then 75 – 65 = 10 cooling degree days. Accumulated over a season and compared to normal gives a relative idea of potential cooling costs. The higher the number, the higher the cooling costs.
Other factors that can influence cooling costs are humidity levels and solar radiation. Personally, I ran the A/C at home pretty much every day since mid-May. Last year I ran it for about two weeks the entire summer.
Record of Days At or Above 80 Degrees for Chicagoland
THE PREVIOUS RECORD FOR CONSECUTIVE 80 DEGREE OR ABOVE DAYS WAS 42
DAYS IN A ROW...SET IN 1955. ON AUGUST 13 2010...THE CHICAGOLAND
AREA HIT 43 CONSECUTIVE DAYS...AND THE NUMBER CONTINUES TO
INCREASE. JULY 2 2010 WAS THE FIRST 80 DEGREE DAY OF THE CURRENT
RECORD. AS OF 251 PM CDT TODAY...WHEN THE TEMPERATURE AT OHARE
INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT OFFICIALLY REACHED 80 DEGREES DURING
AFTERNOON HEATING...TODAY IS THE 46 CONSECUTIVE DAY FOR THIS
THE TOP TEN RECORDS ARE AS FOLLOWS
1. 46 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK STILL CONTINUING ON AUGUST 16 2010
2. 42 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON AUGUST 7 1955
3. 34 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON SEPTEMBER 6 1995
4. 32 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON AUGUST 8 1983
5. 30 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON JULY 19 1921
6. 29 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON AUGUST 18 1988
7. 27 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON AUGUST 6 1999
8. 27 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON JULY 14 1966
9. 25 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON AUGUST 15 2007
10. 24 DAYS...WITH THE STREAK ENDING ON JULY 26 2005