Precip Statewide and Snowfall in Chicago Area Both Heavy in 6th Wettest January on Record, Illinois State Water Survey

Press Release

For Immediate Release February 2, 2005
Precip Statewide and Snowfall in Chicago Area Both Heavy in 6th Wettest January on Record
Jim Angel - (217) 333-0729, Fax: (217) 244-0220,
Eva Kingston - (217) 244-7270, Fax: (217) 333-6540,

“Precipitation totals in winter include both rainfall and melted snow, but most of January’s 5.56 inches fell as rain on the first 13 days of January when temperatures were unseasonably mild (36.7°F, 12.7 degrees above normal). Rainfall during that period was heaviest along the I-70 corridor, with 8- to 9-inch totals not uncommon, including 9.29 inches at Effingham, 9.17 inches at Palestine, and 8.79 inches at Edwardsville. As a result, there was extensive local flooding from rivers and streams and standing water in fields in mid-January, but the waters had receded and some fields had drained by the end of January across the state,” continues Angel.

Then temperatures in the second half of January averaged 22.5°F (2.9 degrees below normal). For the whole month, January temperatures averaged 28.4°F , 3.6 degrees above normal.

Extremes ranged from 72°F at Kaskaskia (southern Illinois) on January 1 to -13°F at Morrisonville (west-central Illinois) on January 18. Edwardsville had the highest one-day precipitation total (3.05 inches on January 5), and Olney had the highest monthly total (9.30 inches).

All but extreme southern Illinois saw snow in January, with heaviest amounts in the Chicago area, including 35.1 inches at Lake Villa, 29.3 inches at Midway Airport (5th snowiest), 27.8 inches at O’Hare Airport, and 20.7 inches at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

“With records dating back to 1928, Midway Airport has the longest continuous record of snowfall in Chicago. Not since 1999 has there been snowfall like this, but it still does not top the 40.4-inch record at Midway Airport in January 1979,” says Angel.

The National Weather Service outlook for February calls for an increased chance of above normal precipitation and a very strong chance of above normal temperatures across Illinois. Long-term outlooks for spring and summer call for equal changes of above, below, and normal temperatures and precipitation. The weak El Niño event currently occurring in the Pacific is expected to persist over the next few months but should have little influence on Midwestern weather.

“The prospect of a wet February after such a wet January raises concerns about the potential for soggy fields this spring. We’ll just have to wait and see what February and March actually deliver in terms of precipitation,” concludes Angel.

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