August shaping us as second-driest ever

August shaping us as second-driest ever

CHAMPAIGN — This may end up being the second-driest August in Champaign-Urbana weather history, according to the Illinois State Water Survey.

And the dry weather is beginning to worry farmers.

Only 36-hundredths of an inch of rain has fallen at the water survey's recording station so far this month, the second-lowest amount in the 124-year history of the station. On only four days this month has there been any rainfall.

The National Weather Service is forecasting hot and dry weather, with highs in the 90s, every day through Sunday.

Only August 1893 — with 6-hundredths of an inch of rain — was drier, according to state climatologist Jim Angel.

The 36-hundredths of an inch of rain is less than 10 percent the normal August total of 3.93 inches, according to the water survey.

According to the Aug. 20 U.S. Drought Monitor, Champaign County and most of East Central Illinois were considered "abnormally dry" — the lowest level on the drought scale.

Last August was wetter than normal, with 5.56 inches of rain. It followed an usually parched June and July, when only 2.89 inches of rain fell, including 61-hundredths of an inch in July. It was the third driest July in local weather history.

This summer has been almost the opposite, with an above-average 6.27 inches in June and a near normal 3.53 inches in July.

That likely will mean reduced yields in farm fields.

"Going out into the cornfields now, we're seeing that it's aborting some of the kernels near the tip. We're starting to cut yields on regular corn," said Scot Kesler, who farms about 1,400 acres north of Urbana. "The crop wasn't made yet so we're losing yield. The people who are scouring fields are seeing damage every week. They were thinking we lost 20 or 30 bushels on the corn last week."

Around Aug. 1, Kesler said, he had anticipated 200 bushels per acre of corn.

With goods rains some of those losses may be recoverable, he said.

"I think some of it may be, especially on the beans." Kesler said. "But we are getting concerned."

Meanwhile, this week's heat wave could end up being the most extensive of the summer. So far Champaign-Urbana has had only eight 90-degree days all summer, five in July and three in August. The longest string of consecutive 90-degree days thus far was four days in mid-July.

The hottest day of the year was June 12 when the high reached 94 degrees.

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