Was the Chicago area in a drought before the August 1987 deluge?

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Dear Tom,
Wasn’t the Chicago area in a drought before the August 1987 deluge?
—Myron Fox
Dear Myron,
That is true and gives meaning to the adage “be careful what you wish for.” Through August 12, 1987 precipitation for the year in Chicago stood at 15.57 inches, the 11th driest on record. Much of the Chicago area was locked in moderate drought and a broad area of severe to extreme drought covered much of western Illinois. Everyone was hoping for much-needed rain. While rain forecasts made before the onset of the storm were bullish, no one foresaw the magnitude of the event that would bring extensive flood- ing to north portions of the Chicago area. Rain for Aug. 13-14, 1987 totaled 9.35 inches at O’Hare, the city’s heaviest rain event. More heavy rain followed and rainfall for August 1987 totaled 17.10 inches, and still ranks as the city’s all-time wettest month.

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