Climate experts: conditions are right for drought year in Illinois

Drought conditions can lead to higher food prices at the grocery store.

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (Illinois News Network) — State Climatologist Jim Angel says 2018 is shaping up to be a severe drought year, on par with 2012.  In 2012, drought-related expenses racked up a $30 billion bill, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.

This year could be just as bad.

Angel said in 2012 the U.S. experienced a second-year La Niña and that is happening in 2018, too.

The La Niña climate cycle typically causes unusually dry weather in parts of the U.S.

In 2012, dry weather patterns persisted through the winter, spring and summer months. A deluge of recent wet weather in Illinois may be a game changer this year.

“That’s built up the soil moisture and the stream flows and the lake levels so we’re in physically better shape this year right now than we were in 2012,” Angel said.

La Niña also can have a negative impact on farming in Illinois.

Angel said there has been a trend of wetter springs in recent years, which leads to planting delays that remain well into the summer months.

“We’ve had this case in the last couple years of very wet springs and then you turn around and get right into drought conditions, which can be just as troublesome as the long-term drought because you go from one extreme to the other,” Angel said.

The long-term impacts of drought conditions for consumers are higher food prices.

Farms face a tougher road with disruption of agriculture production, according to Angel.

“You feel it the strongest on the farm and in the farm communities; and if you live in the city, you will see it in the food prices moving forward,” Angel said.

For consumers, cost-saving efforts may be as simple as changing what you buy at the grocery store, according to Angel.