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Almost All Of Illinois is Officially A Disaster Area

By Chris Bentley in News on Aug 2, 2012 5:40PM

The heat goes on. The U.S. Department of Agriculture added 66 more Illinois counties to its list of primary natural disaster areas Wednesday due to persistent drought, bringing the total to 98 of the state’s 102 counties.

More than half of all counties in the country have been named disaster areas. The designation gives farmers access to low-interest emergency loans and a grace period on their crop insurance premiums. That’s small consolation given a 90-day outlook that shows little chance of relief through October.

All of Illinois has been affected by the drought, but Cook, DuPage, Kane and Will counties have not been designated disaster areas. More than 71 percent of the state’s land is experiencing “extreme drought,” while another 8.39 percent — mostly in the state’s southern tip — suffers “exceptional drought,” the most severe designation.

2012 has been Illinois’ warmest year on record, according to state climatology records dating back to 1895. Statewide precipitation in July was only 14 inches, about 42 percent drier than average.