'Flash drought' developing around Chicago area as dry weather persists

The lack of rain over the past few weeks across the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest will likely lead to a flash drought, according to the National Weather Service.

A flash drought is the rapid onset or intensification of drought. According to NOAA, a flash drought is often preceded by abnormally high temperatures, high winds and changes in solar radiation.

With 4- and 8-inch soil moisture and river streamflow rates quickly decreasing, the NWS said a flash drought appears to be developing across northern Illinois and northwestern Indiana, especially in the western, central, and southern Chicago metropolitan area.

Unlike conventional drought, which can happen anywhere and at any time, NOAA said a flash drought typically occurs during warm seasons in the central U.S.

"While parts of northern Illinois and northwestern Indiana saw beneficial rainfall in April and early May, the western, central, and southern Chicago Metropolitan area largely missed out," the agency said in a forecast discussion Thursday.


According to the FOX Forecast Center, Chicago O'Hare International Airport hasn't picked up more than half an inch of rain within 24 hours in nearly 50 days. Their biggest rain event for the month of May was on May 8 when 0.16 inches of rain fell.

The NWS said if no rain falls by the end of the month, this May will be the second-driest on record in Chicago beyond 1992 when 0.30 inches of rain fell. 

Rain is unlikely as a stretch of dry and warm days is coming to the northern tier this upcoming week, as what's known as a Rex block pattern develops over most of the eastern U.S. 

The FOX Forecast Center said this will keep much of the northern tier dry and warm. While record highs are unlikely, highs will still be 10-20 degrees above average. 

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