CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – The Illinois State Climatologist said we are in the early stages of a “Flash drought”.
“I’ve driven around Champaign County, and I don’t know if I’ve seen an unwatered lawn that’s still green,” Trent Ford, state climatologist, said.
That’s because of the dry weather and rising temperatures, and experts said you can expect things to get worse.
A mixture of extreme heat, and no rain in sight means the threat of a “flash drought” is on the horizon.
“We go from things are looking okay, to things are not okay very quickly,” Ford said.
That can be hard on farmers, especially if it lasts.
Ford said we’re already seeing the impact with leaves of crops curling to conserve water.
“If we were to come out of this drought and get a couple of good rains in the next week or so a week to 10 days, it could probably minimize the impact to yield. If we continue the hot dry pattern for any more than another 7 to 10 days, we’re probably going to see some actual substantial hits to yield,” Ford said.
The other concern comes from first responders.
“The majority of the calls I would say have to do with heat exhaustion, heat stroke, that kind of stuff. People that think they can get out and do things they do other times of the year, and it just doesn’t end up being a good idea for them,” Brandon Blough, Springfield Fire Chief, said.
The threat of a fire starting is much higher.
“This is a bad time of year, obviously when it gets dry like this, to have the weenie roasts and that kind of stuff,” he said.
Firefighters said when the ground gets this dry, a fire will start easier and spread faster. So, be extra careful with cigarette or cigar buds, don’t set off fireworks or have bonfires, and don’t park your car in the grass. He said the underside of your vehicle can get really hot, and start a fire if you’re on dry grass.
“We want to make sure everyone’s being as safe as they can, and be mindful that that wind can really take this stuff to another level too if something does happen,” he said.
He said having fire extinguishers or buckets of water on hand can be extremely helpful.