December Temps and Precip Near Average, But 2002 Was a Warm Year, Illinois State Water Survey

Press Release

For Immediate Release January 3, 2003
December Temps and Precip Near Average, But 2002 Was a Warm Year
Jim Angel - (217) 333-0729, Fax: (217) 244-0220,
Eva Kingston - (217) 244-7270, Fax: (217) 333-6540,

“Temperatures and precipitation were near average in December, but 2002 was the 21st warmest year in Illinois since 1900, with 53.2-degree temperatures (1 degree above average) and annual precipitation of 38.56 inches (99 percent of average),” says State Climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey (, a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Despite a somewhat warm year, this is no evidence of a warming trend in Illinois over the last 80 years.

“Even with only 2.25 inches of precipitation statewide for December (84 percent of average), the 54th driest December since 1900, it was a big improvement over November when precipitation was 34 percent of average. December temperatures averaged 31.9 degrees (2.1 degrees above average), the 44th warmest December since 1900,” says Angel.

Perry, the only station with a below zero temperature, reported -1 degree on December 26. Temperatures warmed quickly at the end of the month, and highs of 65 degrees were recorded at Quincy, Princeville, and Perry on December 30-31, although Cairo recorded this temperature earlier on December 18.

“Both northeastern and southern Illinois both received significant snowfall in the first half of December, 2-4 inches and 2-14 inches, respectively, while central Illinois had to wait until December 24 for its 2-10 inches. Heaviest snowfall totals occurred in southern Illinois, and Lawrenceville reported 15.3 inches in December. However, northwestern Illinois has had little if any snow in December, and Moline reported only a trace for the month,” says Angel.

“Illinois oscillated between very wet and very dry periods in 2002,” says Angel. April through early June was the 4th wettest period statewide since 1900, with 15.59 inches (154 percent of average). Mid-June to mid-August, the 8th driest period statewide since 1900, had only 4.23 inches (56 percent of average), hitting southern Illinois especially. There was a brief respite in the second half of August, but dry conditions returned, this time in the northern half of the state. September to early December was the 10th driest across the state since 1900, with 6.62 inches (61 percent of average). Northwestern Illinois currently has the largest precipitation deficits with less than 50 percent of average over the past three months. Soil moisture is more than 20 percent below normal down to depths of 6 feet.

“If precipitation remains near average this winter, it will alleviate lingering concerns about soil moisture in northern Illinois due to the dry fall, and moisture levels should be good shape by spring,” concludes Angel.

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