ASK TOM WHY: Does 10 inches short on moisture make up for all the extra rain in 2011?

Dear Tom,

Last year Chicago was

10 inches short on moisture. Does that make up for all the extra rain in 2011?

— Fred Lobb, Crystal Lake

 
Dear Fred,

After logging just 26.91 inches of precipitation in 2012, nearly 10 inches below the norm of 36.89 inches, there is no question that the Chicago area is very dry. The city is currently classified as being in moderate drought. However, moisture conditions here would be far worse if the city’s dry 2012 did not follow a very wet 2011 that logged 49.83 inches of precipitation, making it the second wettest year on record. Only 2008 with 50.86 inches was wetter. If 2013 turns out to be another year with substantially subpar precipitation, the area’s water table will continue to drop, likely making the moisture shortage far more serious than last year.

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