A Look Back at 2008 in Central and Southeast Illinois


Season by Season Highlights:

Winter Season (December 1, 2007 through February 29, 2008):

6-hour temperature falls on January 29, from noon to 6 pm.  Image courtesy of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.
Temperatures fell by up to 60 degrees between noon and 6 pm on January 29.  Click image to enlarge.

Seasonal Averages:

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

TEMPERATURES -- Unseasonably warm weather quickly developed early in January.   Temperatures reached the upper 60s to lower 70s, and remained very warm overnight. In some cases, average daily temperatures were close to 40 degrees above normal on the 6-7th. Springfield had its warmest January night on record, with a low of only 57  degrees on the 7th.

A strong cold front passed through the area on January 29. Temperatures which had been in the 60s that afternoon fell to near zero by the morning of  the 30th. Temperature falls of 20 to 40 degrees in only a couple hours were observed following the initial passage of the front.

A series of Arctic outbreaks kept temperatures 10 to 20 degrees below  normal for much of February.

WEATHER --Meteorological winter saw two winter storms in December before the  winter solstice.  On the 8-9th of December, an ice storm brought  accumulations over a quarter inch in most areas north of I-72, with the highest totals of 1/2 to 3/4 inches in Morgan and Cass Counties.  Extensive tree damage occurred in some areas due to the excessive ice.   The following weekend (15-16th), heavy snowfall of 6 to 9 inches was  widespread roughly along the I-55 corridor eastward to near I-57.

The 2008 severe weather season started early, with the first outbreak on January 7.  Large hail and a few tornadoes occurred across the area,  primarily along and west of I-55.  Strong tornadoes in this outbreak occurred as far north as southeast Wisconsin and northeast Illinois, areas which historically had only seen a few January tornadoes since
reliable records began.  The storms also produced 3 to 5 inches of rain, and combined with rapid snowmelt from a few days earlier, caused flooding on area rivers.

A significant winter storm affected central Illinois as the calendar changed from January to February.  Areas along the I-55 corridor saw the heaviest snow.  Some of the highest amounts occurred around Springfield, where totals of 10 to 13 inches were reported. Southeast Illinois saw a mixture of rain, sleet and snow, which kept accumulations to a few inches.

Copious amounts of precipitation fell during the winter season.  Amounts of 10 to 16 inches were observed roughly from Jacksonville northeast to Watseka.  Several locations saw their second wettest winter on record.


Spring Season (March through May):


Damage in Sumner caused by a magnitude 5.2 earthquake on April 18.  Click image to enlarge
Damage in Sumner caused by a magnitude 5.2 earthquake on April 18.  Click image to enlarge.

Seasonal Averages:

  • Temperatures -- Below normal.
  • Precipitation -- Below normal north of I-72, and above normal south.


TEMPERATURES -- Below normal temperatures prevailed over the area for most of the season.  April was the closest to being near normal, with some locations of east central Illinois averaging slightly above normal.

WEATHER -- Early March ice storms affected southeast Illinois on the 3rd and 4th. A quarter inch of glaze was reported in some areas, with a half inch of sleet in Douglas County.

Very heavy rainfall affected the southern third of Illinois for a few days beginning on Saint Patrick's Day.  Rainfall of 5 to 7 inches was reported along the Highway 50 corridor, from Flora east to Lawrenceville.

While not weather related, an earthquake occurred in southeast Illinois on April 18. Centered 22 miles south-southeast of Olney, the quake measured 5.2 on the Richter Scale, and was felt as far away as Georgia and Kansas. This was the third strongest earthquake on record in Illinois.

Unseasonably strong low pressure tracked east across central Illinois on Mothers Day (May 11).  The central pressure had fallen to 29.08  inches by the time the low reached Danville, having deepened 0.27 inches in only 7 hours.  This was close to record May low pressure values across the area.  As the low pulled away, winds intensified later
that day.  Gusts of 40-55 mph were common, with 60 mph gusts near Decatur and Springfield. This caused many power outages.

Severe weather on May 30 produced extremely large hail in some areas.  Softball size hail was reported near Philo (Champaign County) and  some hail near Springfield was larger than baseballs.

Summer Season (June through August):

Seasonal Averages:

  • Temperatures -- Near normal.
  • Precipitation -- Above normal.

TEMPERATURES -- While temperatures averaged near normal on the whole for the season, July and August averaged below normal.  Temperatures typically did not reach much higher than the lower 90s. However, a high of 98 degrees was reported in Newton on July 20.

WEATHER --A major rainstorm affected east central and southeast Illinois on June 6-7. A cooperative observer in southern Clark County reported over 9 inches of rain in only 24 hours. 5 to 7 inches of rain was widespread as far north as Douglas County. Excessively heavy rain also extended eastward into Indiana. This resulted in copious amounts of water flowing down rivers in southeast Illinois. Several levees failed along the Embarras and Wabash Rivers as water levels reached record stages, resulting in widespread overland flooding.  Record crests were reported on the Embarras River at Ste. Marie and Lawrenceville.

June rainfall in excess of 8 inches was common along the I-72 corridor and south to I-70, where monthly totals of 10 to 16 inches were found.

July was another wet month across the region.  Much of central and southeast Illinois saw precipitation at least 150 percent of normal. Lincoln reported 11 inches of rain during the month, and Springfield had 9.45 inches, both establishing their third wettest July on record.  In contrast, August was much drier, with rainfall of 1/2 to 2 inches for the entire month.  After the wet July, Lincoln had its 5th driest August on record.

Autumn Season (September through November):


Midwestern rainfall measured due to the remnants of Hurricane Ike.  Image courtesy of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.
Excessive rainfall across the Midwest from September 11-14, partially caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ike.  Click image to enlarge.

Seasonal Averages:

  • Temperatures -- Below normal.
  • Precipitation -- Below normal south of I-70, and above normal north of I-70.

TEMPERATURES -- Temperatures averaged near normal across the area for September and October.  However, most of November averaged below normal, especially the middle third of the month.

WEATHER -- The area was affected by the remnants of two hurricanes during September.  The remnants of Hurricane Gustav produced very heavy rain on September 3-4, mainly from 2 to 5 inches, although areas south of I-70 mostly saw less than an inch.  Then from the 11-14th, the remnants of Hurricane Ike tracked toward the Ohio Valley. Three-day rainfall totals of 4 to 8 inches were common. The center of the storm tracked from St. Louis to northern Indiana on the 14th, and resulted in wind gusts over 40 mph east of the track. The Lawrenceville Airport saw winds gusting to 61 mph that day.

With the excessive rainfall, rivers were again in flood.  Significant flooding occurred along the middle portions of the Illinois River.  Crests on September 19 of 31.0 feet at Henry, and 27.0 feet at Peoria, were their third highest of record, and were the highest levels observed since March 1982.

A winter storm began to affect the area late Thanksgiving weekend, bringing heavy snow to parts of the area. 

Winter Season to date (December 1-31):


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

TEMPERATURES -- Temperatures averaged below normal across the region for the first half of December, and were unseasonably cold the first few days, with a few areas north of I-74 falling below zero.  Temperatures remained generally below normal for the last half of the month, though a few days were well above normal and record to near record highs were set on the 27th.

WEATHER -- The early season winter storm wound down on the 1st. Snow totals of 5 to 7 inches occurred in areas from Peoria east to Bloomington.

Strong winds gusted from 35 to 45 mph the weekend of the 13-14th.  These south winds helped bring mild air into the area, with temperatures reaching into the 50s west of I-55 on the 14th.  However, a sharp cold front entered the area, with temperatures falling over 40 degrees by the 15th. 

A major ice storm struck areas north of I-72 on the 18-19th with a quarter to three quarter inches of ice, causing many power outages.  More freezing rain fell days later on December 23-24.  Areas north of I-72 experienced a white Christmas with at least 1 inch or more of snow and ice on the ground. 

A squall line raced east across central and southeast Illinois on the afternoon of Saturday December 27, causing nearly 3 dozen wind damage reports.  Heavy rains of 1 to 2 inches caused river flooding which lasted through the end of the year.

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

  • Highest Temperature:  98 degrees at Newton on July 20
  • Lowest Temperature:  -17 degrees at Galesburg on January 25
  • Most Rain in 24 Hours:  9.10 inches at Martinsville 10S on June 7
  • Most Snow in 24 Hours:  11.5 inches at Rankin on January 31-February 1
  • Most Rain in 1 Month:  15.80 inches at Martinsville 10S in June
  • Most Snow in 1 Month:  22.7 inches at Sidell 5NW in February
  • Reported Tornadoes:  12.  By EF-Scale intensity:  EF0=8, EF1=4.  By county:  Tazewell 3, Edgar 2, McLean 2.  One each in Christian, Coles, Morgan, Richland, Sangamon, Scott, Shelby, and Woodford.  (County total is higher than 12 due to border crossers.)


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