Drought concerns across US and Illinois


(WAND) - The U.S. drought continued to expand and intensify to it's largest area in nearly four years. As of January 30, 38.4 percent of the contiguous U.S was in drought  U.S., up from 27.7 percent at the beginning of January.

During January, the average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 32.2 degrees F, 2.1 degrees above average, ranking among the warmest third in the 124-year record, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information.

Most locations from the Rockies to the West Coast were warmer than average in January, where nine states had monthly temperatures that ranked among the 10 warmest on record and more than 2,000 daily warm temperature records were broken or tied.  Below-average temperatures stretched from the Southern Plains to the East Coast. Several significant cold waves impacted the eastern half of the nation with more than 4,000 daily cold temperature records broken or tied.

The precipitation total for the month was 1.81 inches, 0.50 of an inch below average, making it the 21st driest January on record. NOAA says below-average precipitation were observed across large areas of the country, including parts of the Southwest, Southern Plains, Northern Plains, Midwest, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. Above-average precipitation was observed across parts of the Northwest, Central Plains and Northeast.

During the month of January, numerous snow storms impacted the eastern U.S. Savannah, Georgia picked up 1.2 inches of snow on January 4th, most since 1989 NOAA says. On the other had mountain locations in the Southern Cascades, Southern Cascades, Southern Rockies, and Sierra Nevada Mountains had snow packs totals that were less than 25 percent of average.
NOAA says Alaska experienced the warmest January temperature on record at a NOAA tide gauge at Ketchican where it reached 57 degrees, the highest January daily temperature ever measured in Alaska, beating the previous record of 62 degrees set in January 2014.

Here in central Illinois, areas from Jacksonville, Springfield, and Carlinville south and east to Vandalia are in a moderate drought on the drought monitor. Places like Peoria, Lincoln, Decatur, Taylorville, Shelbyville, Effingham, Paris, Marshall, Danville, and Champaign.

It appears drought conditions will gradually improve over time with rain and snow chances into next week.

Current Conditions