Drought of 1988 and 2005

With the growing rain shortage across the Mississippi and Illinois Valleys, more and more people are beginning to think back to the droughts of 1988 and 2005.

In 2005, we only had 17.86″ of rain for the entire year, which was about 20″ below average! 1988 saw more rain, 25.75″, but that was still more than 12″ below average.

This was the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) from July 1988.  The PDSI is the measurement of dryness based on recent temperatures and precipitation.

As you can see on this map, all the Mississippi and Illinois Valleys were experiencing “extreme drought” conditions.

Meteorological spring (March, April, & May) precipitation totals in 1988 only amounted to 6.04″.  Things didn’t improve much during in June and July that year, with only 1.16″ of rain in June and 1.79″ in July, according to climate data from meteorologist John Haase, from the Quad Cities National Weather Service office.

We did experience a slight reprieve in August 1988 with 4.89″ of rain falling that month.

Things were much worse in July 2005.

After a very dry meteorological spring (March, April, & May) with only 4.9″ of rain falling during planting season, conditions worsened during meteorological summer.  In the summer months of June, July, and August, only 4.7″ of rain fell in the Quad Cities.

And, fall, which is statistically dry, recorded only 4.12″ of rain in the months of September, October, and November. The driest month was October 2005, when only 0.46″ of rain accumulated.

As a matter of fact, in 2005, this all started with only 0.64″ of rain (and melted snow) falling in February.

As of now, in 2012, we’re up to 14.88″ of precipitation.  This is about 5″ below where we should be at this point in the year.

This map shows that eastern Iowa needs about 6 to 9″ of rain and northern Illinois needs about 9 to 12″ of rain to alleviate the current drought conditions.

Although 5.98″ of rain fell in the Quad Cities in May 2012, that is very deceiving.  Of that amount, 4.31″ fell in the first seven days of 2012.  That means that since May 8, 2012, only 3.39″ of rain has fallen in the Quad Cities!

The long-term forecast for the next couple of weeks shows the heat sticking around with below average rainfall.  If this forecast verifies, the drought of 2012 will continue to worse and could even rival 2005 or 1988.



One response to this post.

  1. 2005 was our first summer here at the farm house and I was dragging the hose and sprinkler around just like I am this summer.
    Hopefully things will turn around,


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