While the sunny and warm conditions will be perfect for any Memorial Day weekend gatherings and events, parts of the Chicago area may soon experience a “flash drought” after one of the driest Mays on record.
According to the National Weather Service, parts of the Chicago metropolitan area, particularly in the western and southern parts of the city and the suburbs, have not seen “appreciable precipitation” since early April, and as a result there is growing concern that a drought could soon take hold.
Officials cited measurements of soil moisture at four inches and eight inches into the ground, as well as the flow rates of area rivers, to issue a warning that a “flash drought” could potentially be imminent.
According to officials, a flash drought occurs when dry conditions in soil and waterways rapidly intensify. It can be triggered when precipitation rates decrease, as well as when temperatures remain above normal for extended periods.
The previous situation is the driving force this time, with the last significant rainfall in Chicago occurring on May 8. Not all parts of the metro area saw that kind of rainfall as the system moved through the region.
Officials say rainfall deficits are running at 3-5 inches and are increasing in the western, central and southern parts of the metro area.
Even other parts of Illinois and Indiana that have seen rain recently are experiencing abnormally dry conditions, according to officials.
If no rain falls by the end of the month, May 2023 will be the second driest May on record, eclipsed only by May 1992, according to NWS data.
In terms of alleviating the drought conditions, there is not much in sight. In fact, there is no precipitation in the forecast for the rest of May, and the dry pattern could last into the first week of June.
Officials with the NWS are warning residents to be careful with open flames and smoking materials during Memorial Day events.