Hurricane Isaac blew into Bureau County early Saturday morning, bringing gray skies and wind, but little of the predicted rainfall.
According to the Princeton Water Department, 1.2 inches of rain fell Saturday, far below the amounts predicted by forecasters.
“We’re not used to forecasting tropical storms in Illinois,” said Illinois Climatologist Jim Angel.
More rain fell in the southern part of the state, and the storm also brought two tornados to Marshall County.
Although less than anticipated, the rain should continue to help to bring Bureau County and the nearby area out of the drought that has plagued the area much of the summer.
Even before Saturday’s rains, the situation had started to improve.
Angel said Friday the weather in August was near normal after a hot and dry summer for Illinois.
The statewide average temperature for August was 73.5 degrees, just 0.1 degree below normal.
The statewide average precipitation for August was 3.4 inches, which is 95 percent of normal. Northern and southern parts of Illinois had 3 to 5 inches of rain, while the east-central areas had more than 6 inches. Parts of northern and western Illinois received less than 2.5 inches.
The statewide average temperature for the three summer months of June, July and August was 76.1 degrees, 2.6 degrees above normal. It was the eighth warmest summer on record in Illinois, and the second warmest July on record.
According to the Princeton Water Department, there were seven 100-degree days in July and 13, 90-degree days. Local records were broken on July 4, 5, 6, 17 and 18, with July 6’s 103 degrees breaking a record that had stood for 55 years.
Temperatures moderated in August, with no 100-degree days and only nine days reaching above 90.
Locally, rainfall also improved a little with Princeton seeing 3.67 inches for the month.
For the summer, Angel said some parts of Illinois fared much better than others. South of Interstate 70 had the worst conditions. Central Illinois also had a rough time, while northern Illinois fared a little better.
The recent rains pulled all of Bureau County out of the “Extreme Drought” range on the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday.
More than 29 percent of Illinois, running in a wide swath through the north central part of the state, from the Mississippi River on the west to most of the eastern portion of the state is now in the “Severe Drought” category.
Those numbers are an improvement from the previous week, in which only 23 percent of Illinois was in the “Severe” category.
The percentage of Illinois in the “Exceptional Drought” category peaked at 8.39 percent on July 3, and continues to drop, hitting 7.82 percent last week.
The “Exceptional Drought” category had remained at the 0 percent mark for all of the century, reaching it for the first time July 10 in the far southern portions of the state.
Until this year, the driest Illinois had been was in a long-lasting dry spell in late 2005. Up to half of the state was in the “Extreme Drought” category, beginning in July and continuing through the end of January 2006. Tiny portions of Illinois were in the “Extreme Drought” category in 2007.
The warm spell wasn’t just a summer occurrence. Angel said temperatures have been warmer than usual going all the way back to last November. The statewide average temperature for January — August was 59.0 degrees, 4.2 degrees above normal. It was the warmest January — August on record in Illinois.
Angel said the forecast for Illinois for the first half of September is for below normal temperatures and normal precipitation.
That’s good news, although Angel said September is not normally one of Illinois’ wettest months.
“But it’s better than the summer forecasts of hot and dry,” he said.
However, the warming trend is forecast to resume and continue through November with an increased chance of above normal temperatures.
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