A Look Back at 2005 in Central and Southeast Illinois


Season by Season Highlights:



Winter Season (December 1, 2004 through February 28, 2005):

Lawrenceville Flooding, January 6, 2005  Flooding affects areas around Lawrenceville in January.

Seasonal Averages:

  • Temperatures -- Above Normal.
  • Precipitation -- Above Normal.

Temperatures -- During December 2004, temperatures were above normal for the first half of the month, before a cooling trend set in.  The coldest weather spread across the area just before Christmas, especially across eastern Illinois, due to snow cover.  In southeast Illinois, Robinson reported a low of 15 below zero Christmas morning.  However, by New Years Day, high temperatures were reaching the 50s and 60s across the area.  January did go down as averaging about 3 to 5 degrees above normal for the month, with even milder weather for February (4 to 7 degrees above normal).

Weather -- Heavy rainfall of 1.2 to 1.8 inches occurred on December 6-8, 2004.  This helped prolong some river flooding that had developed during the latter part of November.

A winter storm paralyzed much of southern Illinois from December 21-23.  Snowfall totals of 6 inches occurred as far north as I-70, with Lawrenceville reporting a foot of snow.  Even heavier totals occurred further south and east, with 12-18 inches common across far southern Illinois, western Kentucky, and southern Indiana.

The first severe weather report of the new year occurred in Beardstown on January 1, with 3/4 inch diameter hail falling.

A band of freezing precipitation fell over portions of Illinois January 5-6.  Ice accumulations of 1/4 to 1/2 inch occurred between I-80 and I-72.

Unusually heavy precipitation occurred across central and southern Illinois during the first 7 days of January.  Totals of 5 to 7 inches of rain were common south of I-70, with 2 to 4 inches further north across central Illinois.  Additional amounts of 1 to 3 inches occurred east of I-55 during the second week of January.  These totals, well above normal for the entire month, followed a period of much above normal temperatures.  These features combined to melt the snowpack from the pre-Christmas snowstorm, resulting in extensive flooding on area rivers.  The worst flooding was along the Wabash River in southeast Illinois, where rain was heaviest and the snowpack was the thickest.  Water levels along this river were at their highest levels in nearly 50 years.  Levee failures caused extensive overland flooding across southeast Clark, eastern Crawford, and eastern Lawrence counties.  However, flooding on the Illinois side of the river could have been even worse, if not for a levee breech northeast of Hutsonville on the Indiana side of the river.

Fortunately, after all of this, February was much quieter.  However, river flooding did linger into the month. 

Spring Season (March 1 through May 31):

Hail shaft near Henry, 3/30/2005   Hail shaft near Henry on March 30.

Seasonal Averages:

  • Temperatures -- Ranging from slightly below normal east of I-57, to slightly above normal west of the Illinois River.
  • Precipitation -- Below normal.

Temperatures -- March averaged a few degrees below normal across Illinois.  While the first 3 weeks of April were significantly above normal overall, averaging 7 to 9 degrees above normal, the rest of the month ranged from 8 to 10 degrees below normal. May averaged about 1 to 2 degrees below normal.

Weather -- After the unusually wet start to the year, drought conditions began to develop over central and southeast Illinois.  Statewide, the spring months amounted to the 4th driest spring on record.  Rainfall in May was only 25 to 50 percent of normal over much of our area, with moderate drought conditions  developing over central Illinois by the end of May.  Princeville reported its driest spring on record, with only 3.85 inches of precipitation.  Mattoon saw its second driest spring (4.75 inches), with rankings of 3rd driest at Peoria (4.16) and Havana (4.62).

The first significant severe weather event of the year occurred on March 30.  These reports were mainly on the order of hail 3/4 inch to golfball size, although local wind gusts up to 65 mph caused some damage to outbuildings and trees.  The first tornado of the year touched down in an open field near Macon (south of Decatur) on April 22.  Other severe weather outbreaks occurred on May 13 and 19.  

Summer Season (June 1 through August 31):

Extensive tree damage occurred in Rochester on June 13.  Photo by John Hamm.   Large trees uprooted in Rochester on June 13.

Seasonal Averages:

  • Temperatures -- Slightly above normal.
  • Precipitation -- Below normal, especially west of I-55.

Temperatures -- Excessive heat and humidity occurred across the region during the second part of July.  Daytime temperatures ranged from the mid 90s to around 105 degrees, with heat index values of 105 to 115.  Peoria reported its first 100 degree day in 10 years with a high of 104 degrees on the 24th, and its warmest reading since a 105 degree temperature in July 1988.  The dry conditions across the region helped to temper the stifling humidity that normally occurs across this area.

The season as a whole, while only averaging slightly above normal, saw unusual amounts of heat.  Over the course of the year, there were between 50 and 60 days with highs of 90 or above in many locations.  About 40 to 50 of these occurred from June through August.  In comparison, the summer of 2004 only saw about 5 to 7 such days.  There normally are about 20 to 25 days per year with highs of 90 or above.

Peoria did tie for its 5th warmest summer on record, with an average temperature of 76.7 degrees.

Weather -- Drought conditions continued to worsen across the area. By the end of June, severe drought conditions extended from Jacksonville to Decatur northward.  By the end of July, extreme drought extended across many areas west of the I-55 corridor, from Springfield to Chicago.  The worst of the drought conditions had retreated to northwest of the Illinois River Valley by the end of August, as the remnants of tropical systems helped bring relief to the southeast half of Illinois.  Havana recorded its third driest summer on record, with a total of only 5.68 inches.  Other notable reports include the 6th driest summer on record in Galesburg (6.12 inches), 7th driest at Peoria (5.13 inches), and 8th driest at Lincoln and Princeville (5.84 and 6.46 inches respectively).  In contrast, repeated heavy rains in Vermilion County in July led to an overall above normal rainfall total for the season.

One of the bigger severe weather events of the season occurred on June 13.  Areas along and south of a Macomb to Bloomington line were most affected by the storms.  A line of storms moved eastward across central Illinois during the early evening hours.  Extensive damage to trees and power lines occurred in Chatham, Springfield, and Rochester.  A wind gust of 70 mph was reported at Elwin (southwest of Decatur), and a 65 mph gust occurred near Urbana.  After the original line of storms moved into Indiana, more storms developed between Springfield and St Louis, and moved eastward.  

Autumn Season (September 1 through November 30):

Tornado track west and north of Newton on November 15   Track of a late-season F1 tornado near Newton on November 15

Seasonal Averages:

  • Temperatures -- Above normal.
  • Precipitation -- Above normal east of I-55, and below normal west.

Temperatures -- Very warm weather occurred across the region during the first half of September, as high temperatures averaged 10 to 15 degrees above
normal.  Highs in the lower to mid 90s were common.

October started out quite warm, with temperatures approaching the 90 degree mark.  However, cooler than normal weather prevailed over the second half of the month.  November also started out as much as 15 to 20 degrees above normal, before a significant cool spell toward the middle of the month.

Weather -- Extreme drought conditions had begun to spread southeast again as September began, but retreated as heavy rains occurred during the second half of the month.  Rainfall totals of 3 to 5 inches for the month were common across the area, highest across east central Illinois.  The remnants of Hurricane Rita brought 1 to 3 inches of rain south of a Decatur to Watseka line, although locations northwest of the Illinois River generally missed out on this rain. However, the Illinois River Valley did receive some beneficial heavy rains of 1 to 3 inches on September 19, including 2.26 inches at St David and 1.53 inches at Peoria.

Much of the first half of October was dry, before some relief began to arrive by the 19th.  The greatest totals at this time were generally from Springfield and Lincoln east to the Indiana border, with totals of 1 to 2 inches common.  Local totals included almost 3 inches near Arthur, around 2.5 inches in Tuscola and Arcola, and 1.62 inches at Springfield.

Rainfall totals of 1 to 2 inches were common over Halloween, generally from about I-70 north to a St Louis to Rantoul line.  Heavy rains did manage to reach the Illinois River Valley by November 5th, with about 1.5 inches around the Peoria metro area.

The drought conditions led to a rather quiet severe weather season, with only 5 tornadoes in the Lincoln county warning area through the end of October. However, two severe weather outbreaks occurred across central and southeast Illinois in November.  The first one was on the 5-6th of November, mostly along and west of I-55.  However, shortly after midnight, there were severe thunderstorms along the Indiana border.  One storm produced a wind gust to 89 mph at the Lawrenceville Airport, and another produced an 88 mph gust in Chrisman.  This severe weather complex later affected southwest Indiana, where over 20 people were killed by a tornado in Evansville.

The second severe weather outbreak was on November 15.  The greatest activity from this outbreak ended up being across the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. However, a tornado did move across Jasper County west and north of Newton.  The tornado tracked for 10 miles, was rated at F1 intensity, and ended up being the most significant tornado of the year across the area. 

Winter season to date (December 1 to 21):

Snowfall across Illinois Dec. 1-21.  Courtesy of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.  Total snowfall Dec. 1-21 (Midwestern Regional Climate Center)


  • Temperatures -- Below normal.
  • Precipitation -- Below normal.

Temperatures -- Unseasonably cold weather affected central and southeast Illinois the first 3 weeks of the month.  Temperatures were averaging 10 to 15 degrees below normal.  Record low temperatures in Lincoln included 3 degrees on the 5th and 3 below zero on the 7th, while Peoria fell to zero on the 5th.  Several locations also saw cold high temperature records, with highs only in the single digits to about 15 degrees.

Weather -- Unusual amounts of snow fell across the region during December.  Much of the snow occurred in separate storms on the 1st and 8th.  Many locations north of I-72 saw 8 to 15 inches of snow before Christmas, with 4 to 8 inches to the south.  The total of 14.1 inches in Springfield through the 21st ranks as the 5th snowiest December on record, and is over half of what normally occurs in an entire season.  Despite this, melted precipitation totals were generally around 50 percent below normal.

With the cold conditions setting up early, the drought did not change in coverage over the last several weeks of the year.  Extreme drought conditions continued north of a Galesburg, to Peoria, to Lacon line, where precipitation totals since March 1 had been 13 to 17 inches below normal.

Preliminary 2005 statistics for the 35-county Lincoln NWS coverage area:

  • Highest Temperature:  106 degrees at Prairie City on July 24.
  • Lowest Temperature:  13 degrees below zero at Altona on December 7.
  • Most Rain in 24 Hours:  3.46 inches at Hidalgo 3SW on January 5.
  • Most Snow in 24 Hours:  7.0 inches at Sidell 5NW on December 8.
  • Most Rain in 1 Month:  9.43 inches at Palestine in January.
  • Most Snow in 1 Month:  14.1 inches at Springfield in December.
  • Reported Tornadoes:  6.  By F-Scale intensity:  F0=4, F1=2.  Counties affected:  Macon  (2), and 1 each in Jasper, Knox, Moultrie, and Woodford Counties.


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