Was spring 1988 as dry as it was in 2021?

Weather Blog

Dear Tom,
There have been comparisons to our current drought to the infamous 1988 drought. Was spring 1988 as dry as it was this year?
—George G. Peotone
Dear George,
While both springs ended up far below normal in precipitation, the spring of 1988 was wetter. The meteorological spring precipitation total (March, April, May) in 1988 totaled 5.42 inches, compared to just 3.75 inches this spring. In 1988, precipitation for the June-August meteorological summer period was just 7.08 inches, more than five inches below normal, and ranks as the city’s 22nd driest. That summer, Chicago logged a record 47 days that topped 90 degrees that included a record seven days of triple-digit heat. Nationwide, nearly half of the Lower 48 was in a state of extreme drought, resulting in devastating crop losses with a staggering price tag estimated between 80-120 billion dollars.

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