Early Rainfall Helps End Drought Conditions In Illinois

Feb 18, 2013

Illinois has seen less snow than usual this winter. But the state is still on pace to have more precipitation than in 2012. The U.S. Drought Monitor says only a third of Illinois is still in drought or "abnormally dry" conditions -- down from 100 percent last fall.

Credit U.S. Drought Monitor

While there was below-average snowfall in January, the rain was above-average.
According to the Illinois State Water Survey, there was nearly four-inches of rain across the state, about two inches above normal.

Bob Flider is director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture:

“Every little bit helps. Now it's a matter of: let's just hope we have at least average, hopefully little bit better than average to replenish the moisture levels.” - Bob Flider, Illinois Department of Agriculture

He says the extra rain has him cautiously optimistic the worst of the drought is over.
But his optimism is tempered, because 2012 started with plenty of rainfall, then turned into the worst drought year in decades.

Flider also says a lot of farmland didn't absorb the January rain because it was frozen from the cold.

“The good news is I think that went right to the Mississippi River and other navigable water ways where we needed the water.”

Southeastern Illinois, along the Ohio River, saw nearly 10 inches of rain last month, that's the most in the state.

Illinois Public Radio's Chris Slaby contributed to this report.