Recent rains in some areas of Illinois have alleviated concerns, at least for a while, about dry soil conditions. However, the weather in southern counties continues to be hot and dry, and the crops could use some rain. Dennis Epplin, crop systems educator, Mt. Vernon Extension Center, called my attention to the U.S. Drought Monitor on the Web at http://enso.unl.edu/monitor/monitor.html. The main federal partners that maintain the site are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and the National Weather Service, Climate Prediction Center. The academic partner is the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.|
The U.S. Drought Monitor includes a map that delineates dry and droughty conditions throughout the United States. Maps are released each Thursday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The map released on May 3, 2001, indicated that the southern one-quarter of Illinois was in a moderate drought. At that time, the area from the moderate drought to parts of central Illinois was abnormally dry.
You might want to keep this Web site handy if you want to stay current with drought conditions. The site also has forecasts well into the growing season. Let's hope that we don't need to refer to the Web site very often this year.--Kevin Steffey