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Central Illinois is recovering from the summer drought, but a prediction of above average snowfall this winter should help recharge soil before spring planting.
“We recovered some this fall,” said state climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey in Champaign. Angel said the area received enough rain to help soil moisture in August and September, and the National Weather Service is also calling for slightly above-average snowfall in January through March, which will help even further.
“This winter is expected to be closer to normal,” said Angel, pointing out that last winter saw much less precipitation than average. “I might have shoveled the driveway twice all last winter.”
What Angel is worried about is groundwater supplies, which saw a dip during the drought of 2012.
“I’m not as worried about the soils right now. I’m most worried about the stream flows and ground water. They take a lot more time to recover,” he said.
Central Illinois routinely receives about 23 inches of snow per winter. The total so far this year has been 3 to 5 inches.
As for drought conditions, Piatt County is still considered “abnormally dry,” but that is much better than six months ago. The condition of D0 is the best of the five drought-related ratings given by the NWS, with D4 indicating “exceptional drought.” The weather service is also predicting drought conditions to improve over the next three months.