CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – The Illinois State Water Survey is working to provide accurate information on conditions and drought impacts in Central Illinois. But they need your help.
Dr. Trent Ford, Illinois State Climatologist at the Illinois Water Survey says their agency needs help in determining where impacts are higher and where impacts are lower. He says that process is important in determining where drought conditions might be closer than in other areas.
“Whether your area is currently wet, close to normal, or dry, please consider reporting conditions and any drought impacts you see or hear about…”, said Dr. Ford.
The Water Survey is looking for reports from all across the state, but is particularly interested in Central and Western Illinois, the St Louis Metro area and all of Chicagoland. That’s where normal rainfall totals are less than 50% in the last month.
“Monitoring drought conditions across Illinois is challenging and time consuming because of it’s varied and sometimes subtle impacts,” Ford said. “Likewise, it is just as important to know where drought is not as to know where drought is currently.”
Dr. Ford says the U.S. Drought Monitor is the “gold standard” for the drought forecast, but it can be delayed in reporting drought conditions. That’s because it is released on Thursdays and uses data from the prior Tuesday to Tuesday 7 day period.
“It explicitly does not include forecast information either, so the fact that we’re looking at a dry and warm period of the next 7 days, the drought monitor is not going to consider that…. it’s a snapshot of conditions. But as we know, those conditions can change rather rapidly,” said Ford.
Dr. Ford says there are three ways you can report drought information. One of the best is utilizing the National Drought Mitigation Center’s Conditions Monitoring Observer Report (CMOR).
That system asks a series of questions that help scientists like Dr. Ford understand how the drought is impacting local areas. And every report is more information they can use.
You can provide your reports through CMOR by clicking here.
In addition, Dr. Ford wants to remind CoCoRaHS participants that they can also submit condition reports.
CoCoRaHS is a network of observers who primarily provide rain, snow and hail reports across the country, but they can also provide other data such as drought conditions, storm damage and more.
Finally, you can send reports directly to Dr. Trent Ford at the Illinois State Water Survey at firstname.lastname@example.org.