7th Wettest, 15th Warmest Climatological Winter on Record, Illinois State Water Survey

Press Release

For Immediate Release March 2, 2005
7th Wettest, 15th Warmest Climatological Winter on Record
Jim Angel - (217) 333-0729, Fax: (217) 244-0220, jimangel@illinois.edu
Eva Kingston - (217) 244-7270, Fax: (217) 333-6540, eva@sws.uiuc.edu

“Winter was the 7th wettest, 15th warmest winter in Illinois since 1895 if you define winter like climatologists do using the three calendar months between December and February. That definition more closely fits the period during which winter weather actually occurs in Illinois, rather than astronomical seasons based on sun position,” says State Climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey (http://www.sws.uiuc.edu), a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Preliminary Winter Precip Totals (inches) 12/1/2004 - 2/28/2005
Preliminary Winter Precip Totals (inches)
12/1/2004 - 2/28/2005
(Click to Enlarge Image)

During this period, statewide precipitation totaled 9.29 inches, 42 percent above normal (see map), and temperatures averaged 3.4 degrees above normal.

“Statistics for February also were above normal. Precipitation was 1.97 inches statewide, just 2 percent above normal. Because temperatures were 35.6°F, 5.4 degrees above normal, February ranks as the 13th warmest February on record,” says Angel.

Extremes ranged from 74°F at Belleville (southern Illinois) on February 15 to 5°F at Mt. Carroll (northwestern Illinois) on February 18. Pittsfield had the highest one-day precipitation total (1.30 inches on February 14), while Grayville had the highest monthly total (3.18 inches).

February snowfall was below normal statewide. “Monthly totals averaged 1–4 inches across the state although Elburn (northeastern Illinois) reported 6.0 inches. Winter snowfall also was below normal except in the Chicago area and far southern Illinois where snowfall amounts were near normal,” says Angel.

Historically, a wet winter only slightly increases the odds for a spring with near normal precipitation and below normal temperatures. “In summer, however, the relationship is more profound: above normal precipitation 49 percent of the time and a slightly increased chance for below normal temperatures,” says Angel.

“Even if precipitation this spring is near normal, the very wet soils need time to dry out so that field work can begin, unlike last year when spring planting got started early,” concludes Angel.

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