Peoria, Ill. (WMBD) — The latest NOAA Drought Monitor released Thursday morning showed that drought conditions worsened across Central Illinois over the past week. This isn’t really a surprise given that the area has seen little to no rain over in the last week.

Since the last update, the Drought Monitor shows that low end drought conditions (Abnormally Dry) have expanded west through Peoria the Illinois River Valley. The update also expanded Moderate Drought northwest into Mclean County. Unfortunately severe drought continues around Champaign.

Here’s the change in drought conditions from last week to this week in terms of land area percentage.

DateNoneAbnormally DryModerate DroughtSevere Drought

Despite the increase in drought conditions, the forecast remains optimistic and continues to indicate that this drought is expected to be relatively short lived.

Bring on the rain

Central Illinois will start to see some relief as early as this weekend thanks to a slow moving storm system. Showers and storms could develop for some areas west of the Illinois River as early as Friday afternoon before gradually shifting east Friday night and Saturday.

The bulk of the rain will come Saturday afternoon and night as the cold front gradually shifts east across the state. While the risk of severe storms remains low, isolated instances of gusty winds, heavy rain and frequent lightning will be possible. There will also be a conditional risk for funnel clouds and weak tornadoes if we have enough instability. The Storm Prediction Center has placed all of Central Illinois within a Level 1 Threat area (Marginal Risk) for some of these stronger storms for Saturday afternoon and evening.

Rainfall forecast (updated 8:45 PM Friday)

Rainfall amounts will generally range from 0.50″ to 1.50″ through Saturday evening over most of Central Illinois. Higher totals of 2-3 inches are possible, especially west of the Illinois River and near I-80.