Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

April 20, 2013

Rain pummels area; rivers expected to crest

While more than four inches of rain this week might have made people forget about last summer's severe drought, a soil and water conservationist said the area's clay soil still hasn't recovered from months of dry weather last year.

"It takes a lot of time to replenish the soil," said Brad Tarr of the Jasper County Soil & Water Conservation District in Newton. "While soil conditions have improved, long-term effects of the drought have not been eradicated."

Tarr added that water doesn't readily soak into the clay-based soil south of the Mattoon-Charleston area.

"There's a lot of runoff," he said. "There was somebody digging a basement in this area, and when they got down to two or three feet, the soil was still crumbling. Normally this time of year it would be pretty wet."

While that may not have recovered from the drought, few signs of last summer's disaster were apparent in the Effingham area Friday. Not only were area rivers at flood stage, but Lake Sara was closed to all recreational activity until further notice.

Effingham received 2.84 inches of rain during Thursday's downpour. The deluge followed .63 and .76 inches of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Temperatures in the Effingham area just barely got into the 40s Friday, about 20 degrees below normal for this time of year, and only two days after daytime temperatures approached 80. National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Barnes said a strong cold front moved through the area late Thursday to create the unseasonably cool conditions.

"Earlier in the week, we had a ridge of high pressure overhead, causing the warmer weather," Barnes said. "But that was replaced by a deep area of low pressure centered in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan."

Barnes said skies were expected to clear Friday night, though temperatures were expected to hover close to freezing. By Monday, however, temperatures are expected to reach seasonable levels in the upper 60s before another cold front passes through later next week.

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