Record-breaking Wet Weather across Illinois Continues, Illinois State Water Survey

Press Release

For Immediate Release May 20, 2002
Record-breaking Wet Weather across Illinois Continues

Jim Angel - (217) 333-0729, Fax: (217) 244-0220,
Eva Kingston - (217) 244-7270, Fax: (217) 333-6540,
“With 11.8 inches of rainfall — 183 percent of average — since April 1, this is the wettest April 1–May 19 period in Illinois since 1900, and the month is not over yet,” says State Climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey (, a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The new record beats the old record set in 1943 by a third of an inch. With 10.60 inches, 1957 was third. Although the year 1995 came in fourth with 10.59 inches, precipitation was near average for the rest of that growing season. The latest National Weather Service long-term outlooks call for an increased chance of above average precipitation this June and for the entire summer (June–August).

Figure 1.  Precipitation (inches) - April 1 - May 19, 2002.  This graphic shows that precipitation varied from 4 to 16 inches around the state during this time.
Figure 1. Precipitation (inches),
April 1 - May 19, 2002.

(Click to Enlarge Image)

Cooperative weather observers throughout the state have reported more than 10 inches of precipitation since April 1, including 2 to 5 inches this past week (see figure). Totals for at least 11 Illinois sites (Hardin, Morrisonville, Pana, Riverton, Beecher City, Charleston, Effingham, Lovington, Mattoon, Olney, Ramsey, Tuscola, Vandalia, and Windsor) exceed 15 inches.

Rainfall has been heaviest between Interstates I-70 and I-72 in Illinois. Beecher City, near Effingham, has accumulated 19.32 inches since April 1, including 11.35 inches on May 6–14, which exceeds the 10-day, 100-year storm for that region,” says Angel.

Besides already averaging 6.60 inches of rainfall across Illinois in the first 19 days of May (2.48 inches more than the May average), temperatures 4 degrees cooler than average have further slowed the drying of saturated soils.

“While some folks are saying this is similar to what occurred in 1993, conditions this spring are different. Unusually heavy June–August rains centered over Iowa caused the 1993 flood. Heavy rains this spring are occurring much earlier and are centered over southern Illinois and Indiana,” says Angel.

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