September Heat, Flooding, & Drought

This past month was tied for the 4th warmest September for Illinois (state average temperatures back to 1895), and the warmest September since 1933. Precipitation varied tremendously from north to south across the state.

Preliminary data suggest that September was tied for the 4th warmest on record for Illinois. The preliminary average statewide September temperature was 71.3 degrees, which is 4.9 degrees above the long-term average. Monthly temperatures ranged from 2 to 4 degrees warmer than normal in northeast Illinois to over 6 degrees warmer than normal in southwest Illinois. The preliminary average statewide precipitation was 5.34 inches, which is 1.9 inches above the long-term September average. However, the data also show large differences in September precipitation totals across the state, with northern Illinois receiving much more than average precipitation, and southern Illinois receiving much less than average.

Data are provisional and may change slightly over time. 

Precipitation, Flooding, & Drought

September precipitation totals reveal a strong north-to-south gradient. Areas of northern and north-central Illinois received in excess of 12 inches of rainfall in September, while areas of southeast Illinois received less than 0.25 inches over the same time period (see maps below). Expressed as a percent of normal September precipitation, these totals ranged from 300 percent of normal in northern Illinois to less than 5 percent of normal in southeast Illinois. Locally, a station near Stockton (Jo Daviess County) observed 16.62 inches in September (nearly 13 inches more than normal), while the station at Smithland Lock & Dam (Pope County) recorded only 0.02 inches (3.5 inches less than normal).

August 2019 was the first months since September 2018 during which the U.S. Drought Monitor identified drought in the state. In September, dryness in east-central Illinois persisted but did not intensify. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map (September 24) shows a pocket of moderate drought covering parts of Champaign, Ford, Iroquois, and Vermilion counties (see map below). Concurrently, below normal rainfall and above normal temperatures in the southern part of the state produced dryness in September. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor depicts abnormally dry conditions for most of Illinois south of I-64, and a pocket of moderate drought from Pope and Hardin counties in the southeast to Perry and Franklin counties in south-central Illinois. Conditions in southern Illinois have shown some signals of a flash drought, which is a rapidly intensifying drought event, often provoked by existing precipitation deficit combined with intense heat.

Reports from Illinois Farm Bureau CropWatchers regarding drought in east-central and southern Illinois are mixed. Some report the dryness and heat have helped late-planted crops reach maturity, while at the same time possibly sacrificing yield. The recent National Weather Service 7-day precipitation forecast calls for 1 to 4 inches of rain in the northern half of the state, with 7-day forecasted totals less than 0.5 inches in southern Illinois (see map below).

In contrast to the ongoing drought in southern and east-central Illinois, September was abnormally wet for most of northern and north-central Illinois. Persistent, heavy rains led to flooding impacts in parts of northern Illinois, including the closure of several state parks and significant flooding along the Fox and Des Plaines Rivers, among others. Areas in northern and north-central Illinois received in excess of 12 inches of rainfall in September. In most parts of Peoria, Woodford, Marshall, and Livingston Counties, most of the rainfall totals came in a 24-hour period between September 27 and 28. This event created dangerous flash flooding from Peoria into the southwest Chicago suburbs.

The COOP station in Minonk, Illinois (Woodford County) recorded 9.09 inches of rainfall over that 24-hour period, although that likely fell over a less than 12-hour window. This total approached the 24-hour, 500-year storm total of 9.53 inches and surpassed the 12-hour, 500-year storm total of 8.29 inches. A 500-year storm total refers to a precipitation accumulation over a given time period (e.g., 12, 24, 48 hours, etc.) and has a 0.2 percent chance of occurring in a given year. Impressively, the 9.09-inch total in Minonk broke, and nearly doubled, the all-time 24-hour precipitation total record at that station, which was just over 5 inches (data going back to 1895). Images of flooded fields in Woodford and Marshall Counties suggest this most recent heavy precipitation event may delay harvest.

Temperature

 

The September temperature was much more consistent across the state than precipitation, as the entire state experienced above normal temperatures this month (see maps below). Apart from the last full week in September, most of the state has been under the influence of a large high-pressure system this month, centered to our southeast. This system has allowed warm air to intrude from the south/southwest, generating warmer than normal conditions for this time of the year. In fact, the statewide September average temperature was 71.3 degrees, tying it for the 4th warmest September on record in Illinois (back to 1895). September average temperatures across the state ranged from 65 degrees in Jo Daviess County to 78 degrees in Lawrence County. The lowest minimum temperature reported in Illinois in September was 45 degrees in Jo Daviess County on September 5, and the highest maximum temperature reported in Illinois was 97 degrees in both Alexander and Pope Counties on September 16. Well over 100 local daily climate records were broken in Illinois in September, most of which were high daily minimum temperature records. This is attributed to several very warm nights, including the night of September 22, when the nighttime minimum temperature remained above 70 degrees as far north as Elizabeth (Jo Daviess County) and Freeport (Stephenson County). On the night of September 10, the station in Rock Island reported a nighttime minimum temperature of 77 degrees, besting the previous daily record by 3 degrees.

Short-term temperature forecasts call for continued above average temperatures for the first few days of October and then a regression to cooler, more seasonal conditions. Longer term Climate Forecast System (CFS) forecasts from the National Centers for Environmental Protection show probabilities of a 32-degree freeze in Illinois remain below 30 percent into the third week of October. The map below shows the probability of a daily minimum temperature below 32 degrees between October 14th and October 21st.

October 2019 Outlook

 

Looking into October, the 8 to14-day outlook from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) shows elevated probabilities of above normal temperatures and elevated probabilities of above normal precipitation across the state.

The CPC monthly outlook for October still shows elevated probabilities for below normal temperatures across the northern half of the state, with equal chances (above normal, normal, below normal precipitation) for all but the very northwest corner of Illinois (see maps below).

 

Illinois First Fall Freeze Climatology

Due to significant planting delays across most of the Midwest this year, I have heard many concerns about an early fall freeze and its potential effects on immature crops. Most plants experience damage from a hard freeze or “killing freeze”, which is typically designated by a daily minimum air temperature at or below 28°F. Even in normal growing seasons, an early fall freeze can cause considerable impacts and yield losses for crops. Delayed planting, as was the case this season, increases the risk of freeze damage because crops are less mature going into our normal fall freeze time.

The maps and summary below show first fall freeze dates across Illinois using temperature observations over the period 1979 to 2018. The maps show the earliest and latest fall freeze dates over this 40-year period, as well as the median date, which represents the middle value in the range of dates. The median is preferred over the mean or average, as it is less sensitive to very early or very late freeze dates. Also shown are the 10th (1 in 10 years) and 90th (9 in 10 years) fall freeze dates. All station temperature data were provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center (https://mrcc.illinois.edu); the shaded areas between stations on the map were interpolated and do not represent actual observations.

The earliest fall freeze dates over the past 40 years range from late September in northwest and central Illinois, to early October in southern and eastern Illinois. An early freeze anomaly can be seen at the Mt. Carroll station (Carroll County), which experienced a minimum temperature of 27°F on September 7, 1988. Interestingly, the observed all-season Illinois minimum temperature record was broken earlier this year at the Mt. Carroll station (-38°F).

Tenth percentile first fall freeze dates (i.e., 1 in 10 years) range from early October in northwest and central Illinois to mid- to late October in southern and eastern Illinois.

Median first fall freeze dates range from mid- to late October in northwest and central Illinois to late October/early November in southern and northeastern Illinois. Approximately half the years between 1979 and 2018 experienced the first fall freeze before the median dates. Also, the median dates map clearly shows the effects of the developed Chicagoland area on nighttime minimum temperatures. The median first fall freeze date at Chicago Midway is 10 to 15 days later than in some of the collar counties.

Ninetieth percentile first fall freeze dates (i.e., 9 in 10 years) range from early November in northwest and central Illinois to mid- to late November in southern Illinois. Based on the 40-year climatology, one could say that there is a 90% chance that the first fall freeze on any given year will occur on or before the dates in the 90th percentile map.

Finally, the latest first fall freeze dates across the state range from mid- to late November in northwest Illinois to early to mid-December in southern Illinois.

Note that air temperatures can vary considerably on smaller or micro-scales. For example, plants near heated buildings or other development can be spared when minimum temperatures dip below the 28°F threshold in the countryside. More information and useful freeze products are provided by the Midwestern Regional Climate Center as part of their Vegetation Impact Program (https://mrcc.illinois.edu/VIP/indexFFG.html).  Higher quality, full-page maps can be accessed by clicking the following links:

10th_Percentile 90th_Percentile Earliest Latest Median

Unequal August Precipitation Leads to Drought in Illinois

August 2019 will be remembered for remarkable differences in monthly precipitation totals across Illinois, as well as the first appearance of drought in the state since September 2018.

It would be inappropriate to summarize August 2019 precipitation across the state using only one adjective. Preliminary data suggest that August was drier than average across much of the state north of I-72 and south of I-64, while much wetter than average conditions prevailed between the two interstates. The preliminary average statewide precipitation was 4.21 inches, which is 0.61 inches below the long-term August average. The preliminary average statewide August temperature was 72.8 degrees, which is 0.7 degrees below the long-term average.

Data are provisional and may change slightly over time

Precipitation & Drought

July 2019 was the first month since November 2018 that ended with below average statewide precipitation. Dryness in the northwest and east-central parts of the state that began in July persisted in August.

Areas in the south-central part of the state, particularly in the western extent of the St. Louis metro east, have received precipitation totals in August between 5 inches and 8 inches above normal, with a station near Patoka (Marion County) reporting the highest August rainfall total of 14.19 inches. Most areas of the state north of I-72 and south of I-64, in contrast, received below normal rainfall in August, in some cases up to 4 inches below normal. The driest area in August covered parts of Ford, Iroquois, and Vermilion counties in east-central Illinois, where precipitation totals were less than 50 percent of their August normal (see maps below).

 

The continued dry conditions from July to August led the U.S. Drought Monitor to identify moderate drought (D1) in northwest and east-central Illinois in their August 13 map. This was the first time the Drought Monitor identified drought in Illinois since September 2018, which represents the largest number of consecutive, drought-free weeks (48) since the Drought Monitor began 20 years ago. The latest Drought Monitor map, from August 29, shows moderate drought persistence in northwest and east-central Illinois (see figure below).

The combination of late planting, due to flooding, and multi-week drought has stressed crops and farmers across central Illinois. Reports from Illinois Farm Bureau CropWatchers discuss corn dropping ears and beans dropping leaves in parts of Champaign County. The recent National Weather Service precipitation forecast calls for between 0.75 inches and 2 inches over the next 7 days for most of the northern half of the state, with little to no precipitation in southern Illinois.

Temperature

Much of the state experienced near normal to slightly below normal temperatures in August. A strong cold front in the early part of the month and the last week of the month resulted in cooler conditions, with minimum temperatures ranging from the high 40s to high 50s across the state. This was particularly the case for the northwest quadrant of Illinois. However, all of the state experienced August temperatures within 2 degrees of the long-term August mean (see maps below). August average temperatures ranged from 79 degrees in Pulaski County to 68 degrees in Jo Davies County. The lowest minimum temperature reported in Illinois in August was 48 degrees in DeKalb County on August 2nd, and the highest maximum temperature reported in Illinois was 98 degrees in Pulaski County on August 20th.

September 2019 Outlook

Looking into September, the monthly outlook from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) issued on August 31 shows slightly elevated probabilities of below normal temperatures across the northern half of the state, with equal chances of above normal, normal, and below normal temperatures in the southern half.

September precipitation probabilities slightly favor above normal precipitation in the northwest corner of the state, but are equal (above normal, normal, below normal) for the rest of Illinois (see maps below).

September 2019 Temperature Outlook

September 2019 Precipitation Outlook

July 2019: Prolonged stretch of abnormally wet weather comes to an end, along with notable hot and humid conditions.

July 2019 signaled the end of a persistent and historic stretch of abnormally wet conditions across Illinois, along with several notable periods of significantly above average temperatures.

Preliminary data suggest that July 2019 concluded drier than average, with temperatures above the long-term average. The preliminary average statewide July temperature was 77.3°F, which is 1.9°F above the long-term average. The preliminary average statewide precipitation was 3.23 inches, which is 0.85 inches below the long-term average.

Data are provisional and may change slightly over time

Precipitation

After seven consecutive months of above average statewide precipitation, July 2019 marked the end of the historic wet streak with below average statewide precipitation for the first time since November 2018. Despite the overall below average designation, July precipitation across Illinois was not evenly distributed.

Many in southern and northeastern portions of the state experienced near to above average precipitation totals in July, with a station near Highland (Madison County) reporting the highest monthly rainfall total of 9.02 inches. In contrast, large regions of western and central Illinois saw below average rainfall. In fact, multiple localities near the Quad Cities and along the Mississippi River, as well as smaller regions in east-central Illinois received only 10 to 25% of average monthly precipitation (see maps below).

Dating back to June 1, these same regions have reported precipitation departures of around 2 to 4+ inches below the long-term average. This extended stretch of dry conditions prompted the August 1 map from the U.S Drought Monitor (using data through July 30) to continue to highlight areas of abnormally dry conditions across the western and central portions of the state.

Illinois Precipitation Departures Map
Midwest Regional Climate Center (MRCC), accessed 8/1/2019
Illinois Drought Map
U.S Drought Monitor (UDSM) Illinois, accessed 8/1/2019

Interactive July 2019 Climate Station Precipitation Map

Temperature

Despite an overall seasonable and pleasant ending, the first weeks of July brought several extended periods of heat and humidity to Illinois. Most notable was the heat wave that impacted the region from July 18 through July 21, in which every county in Illinois was under an Excessive Heat Warning at some point during the weekend. Throughout this event, daily maximum station temperatures soared into the 90s, with dew points in the mid- to upper 70s. This resulted in heat indices over 100 for many and approached 110 or higher in some localities. Daily temperature departures of 8 to 10+ degrees above average were common across the northern half of the state (see map below).

Illinois July Heatwave Map

Overnight low temperatures during this event did not bring much, if any, relief from the heat. With a daily minimum temperature of only 80 degrees on July 19, Rockford (Winnebago County) set a new all-time record-high minimum temperature. Records for Rockford extend back to 1905.

Looking at July as a whole, the average station temperatures varied from the mid-70s to the low 80s, and monthly temperature departures of 1 to 4 degrees above the long-term average were common for the northern two-thirds of Illinois (see maps below). The highest temperature reading in the state of 98 degrees occurred at two stations, Flora (Clay County) on July 11, and Palestine (Crawford County) on July 21. The lowest minimum temperature of 51 degrees also occurred at two stations, one near Champaign (Champaign County) on July 23, and at a station near Paxton (Ford County) on July 25.

Illinois July Average Temperatures

Ilinois July Temperatuer Departures

Interactive July 2019 Climate Station Temperature Map

August 2019 Outlook

For the remainder of August, the monthly outlook from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) issued on July 31 favors probabilities for below average temperatures across Illinois and most of the upper Midwest. The outlook also favors near equal chances for below, near, or above average precipitation.

CPC August 2019 Temperature Outlook
August 2019 Temperature Outlook
CPC August 2019 Precipitation Outlook
August 2019 Precipitation Outlook

June 2019: Stormy and Wet with a Warm Finish

June 2019 will be a month remembered for a continuation of above average precipitation and near to seasonably cool temperatures, despite an unseasonably warm finish.

Preliminary data suggest that June 2019 concluded wetter than average, with temperatures slightly below the long-term average. The preliminary average statewide June temperature was 71.0°F, which is 0.9°F below the long-term average. The preliminary average statewide precipitation was 5.39 inches, which is 1.18 inches above the long-term average.

Data are provisional and may change slightly over time

Precipitation and Flooding

After near historic crests at multiple gages along both the Illinois and Mississippi rivers early in the month, water levels continued to slowly recede for many regions heading into July.  However, above average precipitation in June, combined with calculated soil moisture content remaining in the 90th to 99th percentile across Illinois, leaves the state with an elevated risk of continued flooding over the next month, especially in regions that may be affected by storms or locally heavy rainfall.

Flooding concerns along Lake Michigan were common in June. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, water levels in the Lake Michigan-Huron system have risen by nearly 5 inches throughout the month. By the end of June, average levels were reported to be 33 inches, or about 2.75 feet above the historical June average.  These levels set a new June record by nearly 2 inches. Water levels of this magnitude haven’t been exceeded since 1986.

Preliminary results show that the June 2019 statewide precipitation total of 5.39 inches was 1.18 inches above the long-term average.  This marks the 8th consecutive month in which no part of Illinois has been listed as in drought or abnormally dry by the U.S. Drought Monitor, and the 7th consecutive month with above average statewide precipitation.

June rainfall in Illinois was not evenly distributed. Several regions in the northern half of the state reported precipitation totals slightly below to near average for the month, with localized regions of above average precipitation. A large majority of the southern half of the state experienced more uniform above average precipitation departures, with numerous localities receiving 200 to 300% of normal (see maps below).

A gage near Cobden (Union County) reported the highest official precipitation total for June, with a reading of 10.73 inches.

Interactive June 2019 Climate Station Precipitation Map

Temperatures

Preliminary results show that June finished with a statewide average temperature of 71.0°F, which is 0.9°F below the long-term average.

The middle of the month was characterized by an extended period of unseasonably cool temperatures, while the start of astronomical summer brought a steady warming trend which allowed temperatures to reach into the upper 80s and 90s for the final days of June.

Temperature departures for the month were near to 1 to 3° below average, with average temperature values ranging from the mid-60s up into the mid-70s (see maps below).

The highest maximum temperature recorded in the state, at two separate stations, was 97°F, once at a station near Bentley (Hancock County) on June 5, and once at a station near Flora (Clay County) on June 30.

The lowest minimum temperature of only 43°F was reported in Danville (Vermilion County) on the morning of June 14.

Interactive June 2019 Climate Station Temperature Map

July 2019 Outlook

As we head into July, the monthly outlook from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) favors slight probabilities for below average temperatures across most of the state, as well as continued probabilities of wetter than average conditions statewide.

 

 

 

May 2019: Exceptionally Wet and Stormy Across Illinois

May 2019 will be a month remembered for exceptional, record-breaking wet conditions locally, as well as an active, stormy, and at times severe weather pattern across the state.

Preliminary data suggest that May 2019 finished significantly wetter than average, with temperatures marginally below the long-term average. The preliminary average statewide May temperature was 62.5°F, which is 0.2°F below the long-term average. The preliminary average statewide precipitation was 8.43 inches, which is 3.83 inches above the long-term average.

Precipitation

Preliminary statewide average precipitation for May was 8.43 inches, which is 3.83 inches above the long-term average, marking six consecutive months with above average statewide precipitation. As it stands now, spring 2019 will rank within the top four wettest spring seasons in state history (March–May), with May 2019 ranking as the third wettest May in state history.

The multi-sensor precipitation departure map for Illinois shows that practically the entire state received above average precipitation for the month. The only exception was a small region in east-central Illinois near Edgar County, where near to slightly below average precipitation occurred (see maps below).

Portions of west-central and northern Illinois reported the heaviest rainfall for the month, where monthly precipitation departures of 5 to 8 inches above average were common, bringing 200 to 300 percent of average monthly rainfall.  An area roughly defined between Quincy and the Quad Cities extending eastward to near Peoria received the most precipitation in the state, with 7 rain gages in this region recording 13 or more inches of rainfall during May.

A gage near Dallas City (Hancock County) reported the highest precipitation total for May, with an impressive 14.75 inches.

Data from the National Weather Service showed that with a report of 8.25 inches, Chicago experienced its wettest May on record, beating the 8.21-inch reading that was set just last year in May 2018.

The abnormally wet May weather has led to a continuation of elevated flooding risks and significant planting delays for the Illinois agricultural community.  Moderate and major flooding along many local streams and rivers is still ongoing, with flood warnings along both the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers in effect until further notice.

Wet, active, and stormy weather has not only been an issue for Illinois, but also the weather has been a growing risk across much of the central and southern Midwest including the Corn Belt where notable above average precipitation departures for May were also present (see map below).

Severe Weather

In addition to the relentless rainfall, multiple rounds of severe weather impacted the state throughout the month. Statewide, 218 severe weather reports were noted from the Storm Prediction Center, 20 for tornadoes (red), 52 for hail (green), and 146 for wind (blue). Note that multiple reports may be generated for a single event.

Map of May 2019 Severe Weather Reports in Illinois, updated 6/4/2019

Temperature

Preliminary results show that May 2019 finished with a statewide average temperature of 62.5°F, which is 0.2°F below the long-term average.

Monthly temperature departures showed that the northern third of the state generally saw average temperatures of 1 to 3 degrees below normal, while the southern third of the state generally saw average temperatures of 1 to 3 degrees above normal, with near normal temperatures occurring throughout central Illinois.

The highest maximum temperature in the state was recorded at the Kaskaskia River Navigation Lock (Randolph County) with a reading of 93°F on May 26. In contrast, the lowest minimum temperature of 31°F was recorded at the Chicago Botanical Garden (Cook County) on May 4.

June 2019

Although an active weather pattern looks to continue at least for a portion of the first full week of June, the monthly outlook from the Climate Prediction Center favors equal probabilities for below, near, or above average precipitation and temperatures across Illinois for June 2019.

April 2019: An Active Weather Pattern and Late Season Snow!

April 2019 will be a month remembered for a continuation of an active and stormy weather pattern across Illinois, with two short lived, yet notable and uncommon late season snow events which impacted many in northern portions of the state.

The month finished noticeably wetter than average, with temperatures marginally below the long-term average. The preliminary average statewide April temperature was 52.0°F, which is 0.6°F below the long term average. The preliminary average statewide precipitation was 4.58 inches, which is 0.80 inches above the long term average.

Note: Data are provisional and may change slightly over time.

Precipitation

Preliminary statewide average precipitation for April was 4.58 inches, which is 0.80 inches above the long term average.

Precipitation in Illinois has been above average since December 2018. Preliminary data would rank this as the 7th wettest December – April period in state history. The end of April 2019 marked six months since any portion of the state has been classified as in drought, or abnormally dry by the U.S Drought Monitor..

An active spring weather pattern resulted in a majority of regions in northern, eastern, and southern portions of the state receiving over 100% of average monthly precipitation, with localized amounts approaching 200%.  Smaller regions of the state in west-central Illinois – roughly between the Mississippi and Illinois rivers are the only locations to receive near or below average precipitation for the month (see map below).

The heaviest precipitation fell in extreme southern Illinois, especially in counties bordering the Wabash and Mississippi Rivers, where 6 to 8+ inches were common (see map below).  The highest total in the state was reported at a station near Cobden (Union County) with 8.31 inches.

Heading into May, flooding remains an ongoing concern for the state, as soil moisture percentiles remain in the 90th to 95th percent range.

As of April 30th, 134 river gauges affecting Illinois were reported with crests in minor, moderate, or major flood stages. The greatest threat continues to remain along the Mississippi River. River flooding concerns were intensified by several days or heavy rains during the last week of April.

Snowfall

A majority of April snowfall came from two short lived, yet notable late season events that impacted many in northern portions of the state.

The first event on the weekend of April 13th and 14th brought widespread reports of 1 to 5 inches along a corridor extending from near Quincy, and running northeast toward Chicago and the Illinois/Wisconsin border. Several localities west and north of Chicago reported 6 to 8+ inches. Notable accumulations were measured as far south as Peoria. An accumulation of 5.4 inches at Chicago O’Hare Airport tied the record for the snowiest calendar day this late in the season.  April 16, 1961 also recorded 5.4 inches of snow.

The second snow event on April 27th brought a variety of wintry precipitation types to locations in northern Illinois, including another round of accumulating snow for many from Chicago and points north and west.  With 3.7 inches, this was the latest 2+ inch snow event on record for Rockford (Winnebago County).

The maximum monthly snowfall in Illinois was reported at a station near St. Charles (Kane County) with an impressive 13.5 inches.

Temperature

Preliminary results show that April 2019 finished with a statewide average temperature of 52.0°F which is 0.6°F below the long term average.

Despite several significant temperature swings throughout the month, which are common during springtime, statewide April temperatures finished right around the long term average. A few pockets in extreme southern Illinois reported slightly above average, and sporadic regions in northern Illinois reported slightly below the long term average.  This is a welcome change from last year,  April 2018, which ranked as the second coldest April on record.

The highest temperature in the state was recorded at a station near Jerseyville (Jersey County) with a reading of 85°F on April 23.  In contrast, the lowest temperature of 18°F was recorded at a station in Altona (Knox County) on April 1.

May 2019

Looking ahead at the rest of May 2019, the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) is favoring probabilities of above average temperatures for the southeast half of the state, with equal chances of above, near, or below average temperatures for the northwest half of the state. Unfortunately, an active weather pattern looks to persist, as the May outlook favors probabilities of above average precipitation statewide.

Late April 2019 Snow Event

4/29/2019 – A strong and considerably cold low pressure system took aim at Illinois on Saturday April 27th, bringing a large area of widespread precipitation and unseasonably cool weather to a majority of the state.  The greatest impacts were felt in Northern Illinois, where temperatures were cold enough to support a variety of wintry precipitation types. This included a late season and uncommon accumulating snow for many from Chicago and points north and west.

According to the National Weather Service, the final snowfall total at Chicago O’Hare of 2.5 inches was the latest accumulating snowfall for the city since 1989, and the latest 2+ inch single calendar day snowfall in station history. The two day period of May 1-2, 1940 saw 2.2 inches.

Typically, Chicago O’Hare can expect 1.2 inches of snow in April, with the record for the month being 11.1 inches which was set in April 1975.  To date, April 2019 has seen 7.9 inches.

The official snowfall total in Rockford of 3.7 inches was the latest accumulating snow since 1994, and ranks as the latest 2+ inch snow event on record.  Beating out April 23, 1986 with 3.8 inches, and April 23-24, 1910 with 2.5 inches.

A station in Stockton (Jo Daviess County) reported 6.0 inches of snow with this event.  See the interpolated map below of preliminary snowfall accumulation across the state. (Note: Locally higher snowfall reports were common)

Behind this system, and with the aid of fresh spring snow cover, temperatures dropped across Northern Illinois, with Rockford tying the record daily low temperature on the morning of April 28th with a reading of 28°F.

In total 26 weather stations reported temperatures below freezing on the morning of April 28th, with Stockton (Jo Daviess County) reporting the lowest weekend reading in the state with just 21°F.

March 2019: A cold start to the month, with a stormy and wet finish

March 2019 will be a month remembered for an unseasonably cold start, followed by an active and wet weather pattern which resulted in a continuation of excess soil moisture, and major flooding events on many local streams and rivers.

Statewide, March ended colder and substantially wetter than the long term average.  The preliminary average statewide March temperature was 36.6°F, which is 4.7°F below the long term average.  The preliminary average statewide precipitation was 4.16 inches, which is 1.20 inches above the long term average.

Data are provisional and may change slightly over time.

Temperature

Preliminary results show that March 2019 finished with a statewide average temperature of 36.6°F which is 4.7°F below the long term average.

The first full week or March begun with a brutal Arctic outbreak in which temperature departures of 15° to 25°  below normal were common across Illinois (see map below).

During this time three stations recorded minimum temperatures of -10° or colder.  The lowest reading in the state, -12°F, occurred at the Little Red School House station (Cook County) on March 5th.

In contrast, the warmest reading in the state was 76°F, reported at a station near Dixon Spring (Pope County) on March 13th.

The map below depicts average monthly statewide temperature departures for Illinois.  March temperature departures finished below average statewide, with the coldest departures occurring across large areas of central Illinois, and in the northwest corner of the state.

Precipitation

Preliminary statewide average precipitation for March was 4.16 inches, which is 1.20 inches above the long term average.

A persistent active weather pattern along with above average precipitation were the biggest weather stories in March.  Major and historic flooding on the lower Ohio River Basin in Southern Illinois continued into the first week of March, resulting from substantial February rain events.  By the middle of the month, a strong and historic low pressure system brought heavy rain, storms, and strong wind to Illinois and the rest of the Midwest.  The heavy rains and combined regional snow melt resulted in additional widespread flooding concerns across the region.  This included a major flooding event for northern and northwest Illinois, with the Rock, Fox, and Mississippi Rivers experiencing significant crests.

The heaviest March precipitation fell across central and southern portions of the state where 4 to 6 inches were common.  Five stations in these regions reported over 6 inches of precipitation for the month.  Totals were lower in Northern Illinois with generally 1.5 to 3 inches. The lowest totals for the month occurred along the Illinois/Wisconsin border.

The highest March precipitation total of 6.41 inches was reported at a station near Jerseyville (Jersey County).

Above average March wetness led to precipitation anomalies over 100% of average for the southern two-thirds of the state, with the most impressive anomalies of 200-300% percent of average in a large area of central Illinois (see map below).

Snowfall in March did occur statewide, although it was rarely long lasting.  Storm tracks are apparent on the accumulated snowfall map, with two distinct snow maximums. One in the vicinity of the corridor from Rushville to Springfield, and a second centered near Kankakee.  In both cases 3 to 5 inches of accumulation were measured.

Spring Outlook

Soil moisture profiles across Illinois remain in the 90th percentile or higher as we head into April.  This leaves soil conditions favorable for spring runoff, and is an ever-growing concern for the agricultural community.

The National Weather Service (NWS) spring flood outlook places the entire state in its flood risk zone. Eastern and central Illinois are subject to a minor flood risk, while western, extreme northern and southern portions of the state are in a moderate flood risk zone.  Locations immediately along the banks of the Mississippi river are in a major flood risk zone.

April 2019

Looking ahead at the rest of April 2019, the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) is favoring probabilities of above average temperatures statewide.  This is a welcome change compared to April 2018, which ranked as the second coldest April in state history.  An active weather pattern looks to persist, as the April outlook favors slight probabilities of above average precipitation for the western half of the state.

Mt. Carroll reclaims the title for the record minimum temperature in Illinois

Mt. Carroll reclaims the title for the record minimum temperature in Illinois

Champaign, Ill., 3/6/19: An Arctic outbreak in late January 2019 led to widespread bitterly cold temperatures across much of the Upper Midwest, including Illinois. On the morning of Jan. 31, the cooperative weather observer at Mt. Carroll, located in Carroll County, reported a temperature of -38 degrees.

After a comprehensive review, the State Climate Extremes Committee (SCEC) unanimously voted to validate the -38 degrees reading as the new official state record minimum temperature. This committee ensures that the observation is meteorologically plausible, is within a range that the reporting instrument can detect, and that the instrument is in proper working order.

Brian Kerschner at the Illinois State Water Survey represented the Illinois State Climatologist Office as a member of the SCEC, along with delegates from the National Weather Service (NWS), the Midwest Regional Climate Center (MRCC), and the National Center for Environment Information (NCEI).

The previous minimum temperature record for Illinois was -36 degrees set in Congerville, located in Woodford County, on Jan. 5, 1999. The coldest temperature prior to the Congerville record, -35 degrees, was also set at Mt. Carroll in January 1930, and was later tied with Elizabeth in February 1996.

The Mt. Carroll station is a traditional daily observing station located in northwestern Illinois. It has been in service, with minor interruptions, since 1895, and has been observing temperatures since 1897. It is operated by the City of Mt. Carroll and attended by staff at the city’s water treatment plant.

You can view the final report on the NCEI website here: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/scec/reports

A complete list of current state records can be found here:
https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/scec/records/IL

Mt. Carroll coop weather observation site
Feb. 1, 2019.
Photo: NWS Quad Cities WFO

 


Media Contacts: Brian Kerschner (217) 333-0729, Fax: (217) 244-0220, statecli@isws.illinois.edu

Editor: Lisa Sheppard (217) 244-7270, sheppard@illinois.edu