Soils are drying across Illinois in mid-May

CHAMPAIGN – Soils are warmer and drier across the state in the middle of May, according to Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) program manager at the Illinois State Water Survey.

Soil temperatures at 4 inches under bare soil rose 17 degrees in the first three weeks of May to a state average of 69 degrees on May 21. Temperatures are 2 degrees higher than in 2022 and 2 degrees higher than the historical average. Daily highs were in the 70s and low 80s with daily lows in the 50s and 60s.

Soil moisture rose 5 percent in May to an average of 0.28 water fraction by volume (wfv) on May 21. However, drier weather in the last week caused moisture levels to decline across the state.

Moisture at 4 inches fell 16 percent on average from May 16 to 21. The largest declines have been in northern Illinois where soil moisture at the Illinois Climate Network station in DeKalb County fell 33 percent over the past week.

The drying is contained to the upper depths with no impacts seen at soil depths of 20 inches and greater.

The Illinois State Water Survey’s WARM program collects hourly and daily weather and soil information at 19 stations across the state. Daily and monthly summaries can be found at the WARM website (

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