CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – The latest update of the U.S. Drought Monitor has brought drought conditions back into Central Illinois.

After a few weeks of abnormally dry conditions growing in the region, the declaration comes as rainfall totals have been in some areas less than 1/2 of normal for the month of April and May.

The drought monitor is classified on a scale from abnormally dry (D0) through exceptional drought (D4). A classification of moderate drought (D1) is the first official step towards drought, with increasing severity including severe drought (D2) and extreme drought (D3).

When moderate drought is declared, the following can be expected; “Some damage to crops, pastures, fire risk high, streams, reservoirs or wells low, some water shortage developing or imminent, voluntary water use restrictions requested,” according to the Drought Monitor.

This comes after Gibson City was one of the first to declare water restrictions in Central Illinois.

Included in the Moderate Drought area is Champaign-Urbana, Decatur, Bloomington-Normal, Mattoon-Charleston, Pontiac and Peoria, with the Moderate Conditions expanding northwestward towards the Quad Cities.

Other areas in Illinois experiencing moderate drought conditions includes the Chicago Metro, Western Illinois near Quincy and a small part of the St. Louis East Metro area, centered around Alton.

Dr. Trent Ford of the Illinois State Water Survey says the drought conditions aren’t as bad as they could be.

“We have not seen many signs of stress or impacts to crops in the region yet, nor have received reports of such impacts. Additionally, flow in many of our streams, including the Sangamon River, is much below normal,” said Dr. Ford.

Concerns about water resources may increase if the dry weather continues. “We have not heard of any impacts to water resources or ecology in our streams and wetlands, yet. If dry and warm weather continues another couple of weeks, we will likely see more signs of stress in our natural and agricultural lands, and continued hydrology issues,” said Dr. Ford.

Recent updates from several local river gauges show water levels abnormally low. But they are not concerning at this point, still being several feet away from all-time lows.

Dr. Ford helps provide input to the Drought Monitor group. In recent weeks, he has asked for reports and continues to encourage residents in the area to provide routine updates on how conditions are in their area.

“We have received dozens of condition and impact reports across Illinois over the past week, so thank you to all of those who have contributed those and helped the drought monitoring effort! Please continue to submit reports as you see conditions change or impacts become apparent, using the CMOR system.”

Learn more about how you can provide reports on the drought below.

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced through a partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

See routine updated drought conditions on the Weather Now Article. The Drought Monitor is updated every Thursday.