As temperatures climb Thursday to begin another Chicago heat wave, meteorologists say the state's ongoing drought keeps getting worse.
The National Weather Service predicted this week that Illinois will see below-average precipitation during the next three months and no drought relief through October.
Meanwhile the U.S. Department of Agriculture heeded Gov. Pat Quinn's request for federal assistance and added another batch of counties to the list of areas eligible for help. That leaves most of the state in disaster mode except for Cook, DuPage, Kane and Will counties, but Quinn said the entire state will be affected.
"While harvest has yet to begin, we already see that the drought has caused considerable crop damage," Quinn said Wednesday. "This declaration means farmers across Illinois who are suffering production losses can now qualify for federal assistance."
Chicago's July was the third warmest on record, according to the National Weather Service, and the Illinois Farm Bureau said 2012 is the sixth-driest year on record so far.
On Thursday, high temps put Chicago in the running for the 37th day of 90-degree-plus conditions. And there's more on the way.
Afternoon highs could top out in the low 90s as the chance for an isolated thunderstorm rises late in the day in far northern sections. Saturday is expected to be even hotter and more humid with high temperatures in the mid-90s and heat index readings around 100.
Scattered showers and thunderstorms could pop up later in the day, thought. It's at least welcomed relief for the Chicago area.