The staff at the National weather service office in Lincoln, Illinois voted on the central Illinois top 10 weather stories of 2009 and 2000s decade, and here are the results.

Central Illinois Top 10 Weather Stories of 2009

1.  Aug 19 EF3 Loami & Williamsville Tornadoes  
The strongest tornadoes in over five years struck parts of Sangamon County in Loami and Williamsville the afternoon of Aug 19th causing some injuries.  These were also the 3rd strongest tornadoes of the past decade to strike central Illinois, only surpased by the F4 Roanoke Tornado July 13, 2004 and South Pekin strong F3 Tornado May 10, 2003.

2.  Record Cool Summer 2009  

Canadian airmasses repeatedly invaded the Midwest during the summer of 2009.  The jet stream pattern allowed much below normal temperatures to persist across central and southeast Illinois for much of July and August.  Many locations saw average mean temperatures for meteorological summer (June through August) of 1 to 3 degrees below normal making it feel more like central Wisconsin, which put many sites in their top 10 coolest summers on record.  The only heat waves this past summer were during a week the end of June and for a couple days the middle of August.

3.  Illinois River Flood Streak first half of 2009 

A record stretch of flooding occurred along the Illinois River locations from Henry to Peoria to Havana to Beardstown. All four locations received "Top 5" honors...with a new record set at Peoria of three consecutive months in flood in the spring of 2009.

4.  Jan 26 - 28 Snowstorm Southeast Illinois  

Between 8 and 12 inches of snow fell across southeast Illinois from Jan 26-28 along and southeast of a Taylorville to Tuscola to Danville line.

5.  May 15 Flooding across Central & Southeast Illinois

Widespread showers and thunderstorms that moved across portions of Illinois on May 13th and May 15th caused river flooding across portions of central and southeast Illinois. The most significant flooding was seen along the Spoon and Illinois Rivers.  Rainfall totals from both precipitation events ranged from 3 to 5 inches in many areas. 

6.  2009 in Top 10 Wettest Years on Record

A couple dozen cities in central Illinois ranked in the top 10 wettest years in 2009. Havana had their wettest year on record with 67.44" smashing the previous record yearly precipitation record of 60.51" set in 1993. Four cities had their 2nd wettest year including Peoria (54.51"), Hutsonville (55.75"), Mount Pulaski (51.42") and Moweaqua (51.36"). Five cities had their 3rd wettest year on record including Tuscola (53.65"), Lincoln (50.14"), Mattoon (52.20"), Mason City (49.49") and Palestine (56.60").  Five other cities landed in the top 5 for wettest years on record.  This delayed the fall harvest by more than a month with several fields still being harvested in December.

7.  Oct 2009 2nd Wettest on Record

October 2009 was the 2nd wettest on record with only 1941 being wetter.  Between 8 and 12 inches of rain fell in October while the monthly normal rainfall is around 2.75 inches.  October is typically when a lot of harvesting of corn and soybeans is done, but very few days were dry enough for harvesting with very heavy rains throughout the month.

8.  Mar 8 EF1 Tornadoes Sangamon & Lawrence counties

A strong cold front rapidly swept east across Illinois around midday Sunday Mar 8, as low pressure deepened and tracked from northern Missouri to northeast Illinois.  Very strong wind fields aloft and ample heat and humidity flowing up from the south led to severe thunderstorm development along the frontal boundary.  Numerous reports of wind damage were received across central and southeast Illinois, with trees and powerlines down, along with some reports of structural damage to buildings.  In addition to strong thunderstorm winds, a very strong pressure gradient developed on the back side of the deepening low and caused sustained winds of 40 to 60 mph across the region during the afternoon, causing additional damage. Two EF1 tornadoes occured in Sangamon and Lawrenceville counties during midday Sunday Mar 8.  Meanwhile a snowstorm was occurring up north over Wisconsin.

9.  Jun 18 & 19 Severe Weather Outbreaks

A major severe weather event unfolded across central Illinois between 4 and 8 am on Thursday morning June 18th and again from late Friday morning through Friday evening June 19th.

10.  Jul 4 & 8 Heavy Rains & Storms

Rainfall amounts from showers from a Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) on Saturday July 4th ranged from around a half inch to as much as 2 inches.  The showers had diminished to spotty drizzle after dusk Saturday evening for the 4th of July fireworks.  Scattered strong thunderstorms developed along a stationary frontal boundary across central Illinois during the afternoon of Wednesday, July 8th.  A strong storm moved across the southern sections of Moultrie and Coles counties, then dropped southeastward into Cumberland and Jasper counties.  This storm produced copious amounts of lightning, as well as small hail and torrential rainfall.  Widespread street flooding occurred in Mattoon, with several observers reporting up to 2 inches of rain in about one hour.  Further south, a downburst associated with the storm brought large tree branches down in Neoga.  Two additional severe cells formed much further northwest across parts of Knox and Fulton counties.  Two brief tornado touchdowns were reported with these cells, although no damage or injuries occurred. 

10.  Aug 4 Severe Bow Echo

A significant wind event occurred across central Illinois Tuesday morning Aug 4th.  Developing in southwest Iowa and northwest Missouri around 3 am, a bow echo raced eastward, crossing Illinois between 6 and 11 am on Tuesday Aug 4th.  This caused widespread wind damage, especially in portions of Fulton and Vermilion counties.


Here are a few weather stories in 2009 that just missed the top 10 list...

12.  Dec 8-9 Snowstorm Northwest of the Illinois River

13.  Dec 23-27 Heavy Rains & Snows

13.   May 13 EF0-1 Tornadoes Christian, Shelby & Vermilion counties

15.  Jul 24-25 Friday Night Severe Weather

May 7 Severe Weather Southwest counties

Central Illinois Top 10 Weather Stories of 2000s Decade

1.  Jul 13, 2004 F4 Roanoke Tornado  

An F4 tornado struck the Parsons Plant 4 miles west of Roanoke during mid afternoon on July 13, 2004 making a 10 mile track packing winds of 210 to 240 mph.  It destroyed the plant with around 150 people taking shelter and all surviving without any injuries.  This was the strongest tornado to strike central Illinois in the past 15 years since 1995. 

2.  Nov 30 - Dec 1, 2006 Ice & Snow Storm west of I-57
Widespread freezing rain and sleet affected many locations in central Illinois west of I-57 on Thursday Night Nov 30-Dec 1, 2006.  Eleven counties in central Illinois reported ice ranging from a quarter to 2 inches thick, with the thickest ice around Decatur, Talorville, Clinton and Mount Pulaski.  People came from surrounding states to help repair downed power lines and poles from the heavy ice accumulations.  Eight counties reported heavy sleet ranging in depth from a half to 2.2 inches. Between 6 and 12 inches of snow fell across the Illinois River valley with 12 to 18 inches of snow just north of Stark and Marshall counties in Bureau and Putnam counties.

3.  May 10, 2003 F3 South Pekin & Morton Tornado  

A 19 mile track tornado up to a strong F3 intensity with winds of 200 mph and a quarter mile wide struck South Pekin in Tazewell County just before 10 PM Sunday evening May 10, 2003. There were 23 injuries reported in South Pekin. This was the 2nd strongest tornado in central Illinois during the past decade.  The tornado was F2 intensity when it struck Morton and severely damaged a concrete plant and the Cape Cod Apartment complex. There were 8 injuries in Morton, including in a vehicle on I-74.  There were several rounds of severe weather leading up to May 10th across central Illinois including May 6th, 8th & 9th.

4.  Mar 12, 2006 F2 Springfield Tornadoes 

On March 12, 2006, an unusually long-tracked supercell thunderstorm moved across the central United States.  It originated in northeast Oklahoma around midday, tracked across Kansas and Missouri during the afternoon and early evening, across Illinois during mid to late Sunday evening, and northern Indiana late evening into overnight, before finally dissipating in southern Michigan.  There were 9 tornadoes across central Illinois that Sunday evening, including two F2 tornadoes with winds of 120 mph in Springfield around 8:30 pm.  One of these tornadoes that struck Springfield had a track of approximately 66 miles.

4.  Feb 12-13, 2007 Blizzard

One of the most significant snowstorms in nearly a decade struck central Illinois on February 13, 2007 producing blizzard conditions in many locations. Snow began falling during Monday night and Tuesday Feb 12-13, lasting about 24 hours. The extended period of snow produced impressive accumulations across parts of central Illinois, particularly along the I-72 corridor where between 10 and 15 inches was common. Strong winds with the heavy snow created 3 to 6 foot snow drifts.  This blizzard shut down the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, the first time in over 28 years since Jan 1979. Further north and south, snow totals gradually tapered downward. The precipitation began as rain across southeast Illinois, then changed to a brief period of freezing rain, sleet, and snow during the afternoon. As a result, snow accumulations south of I-70 were only an inch or two.

6.  2008 & 2009 Top 10 Wettest Years

Two consecutive years of 2008 & 2009 landed in the top 10 wettest years on record for dozens of central Illinois cities, with over 100 inches of precipitation in those two years which averaged 30 to 36 inches above normal.  So what many central Illinois cities typical get for precipitation in three years, they got in just two years.  Here are some of the higher precipitation amounts in 2008 & 2009... Havana 117.62", Hutsonville 117.51", Decatur 113.39", Palestine 112.41", Effingham 111.68", Tuscola 108.92", Lincoln 106.38" and Springfield 106.31",

7.  Apr 2, 2006 Two Dozen Tornadoes

The largest tornado outbreak in central Illinois in the past 15 years occurred on April 2, 2006 when 25 tornadoes touched in less than two hours early Sunday evening between 5:46 pm and 7:27 pm. The tornadoes caused 5 injuries, including 3 near the Decatur airport, 1 in Taylorville and 1 near Riverton. These tornadoes formed on the leading edge of a squall line of severe thunderstorms.  As the squall line raced northeast at 60 mph through Central Illinois, producing straight-line wind damage, small circulations developed which produced the frequent, mainly small, short-lived tornadoes.  The strongest tornado was an F2 tornado in Macon with 120 mph winds.

8.  Feb 11, 2003 Snow Rollers

Log-shaped "snowballs" showed up on lawns, fields, and other open areas on the evening of Feb 11, 2003.  This is a phenomenon referred to as "snow rollers".  These are formed under specific weather conditions: 
The ground surface must have an icy, crusty snow, on which falling snow cannot stick. About an inch or so of loose, wet snow must accumulate. Gusty and strong winds are needed to scoop out chunks of snow. Snowfall of 1 to 4 inches occurred across central Illinois the morning of February 11.  That evening, as a strong cold front pushed through the area, wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph were noted in many areas. Once the initial "seed" of the roller is started, it begins to roll.  It collects additional snow from the ground as it rolls along, leaving trails behind it.  The appearance is similar to building snowmen, except the snowball is more log-shaped rather than spherical, and many times they are hollow.  They can be as small as a golf ball, or as large as a 30 gallon drum, but typically they are about 10 to 12 inches in diameter.

9.  Jan 31 - Feb 1, 2008 Snowstorm

A significant winter storm affected central Illinois Thursday night Jan 31 - Feb 1, 2008, bringing widespread heavy snowfall to the region.  The heaviest snow fell in a swath along and northwest of a Champaign, to Decatur, to Springfield line and from the Illinois River southeast, where 6 to 10 inch amounts were common.  A few locations picked up as much as 10 to 12 inches along I-55 corridor, with near 13 inches in Jerome (Sangamon County). 

10.  Apr 16, 2006 Easter Sunday F2 Tornadoes

Ten tornadoes touched down across central and southeast Illinois on Sunday afternoon April 16, 2006.  This was the third tornadic outbreak in Central Illinois on a Sunday in a month, including the Mar 12th and Apr 2nd tornadoes. Two F2 tornadoes struck southeast Illinois, with an F2 tornado in Effingham County from Elliotstown to Deterich with 130-140 mph winds, and an F2 tornado near Wheeler in Jasper County with 115-120 mph winds.


Here are a few weather stories in the 2000s decade that just missed the top 10 list...

11.  Feb 14-16, 2003 Valentine's Weekend Snowstorm

11.  Record Cool 2004 & 2009 Summers 

13.   Nov 24, 2004 Thanksgiving Eve Snowstorm

13.  Dec 18-19, 2008 Ice Storm

15.  Aug 19, 2009 EF3 Williamsville & Loami Tornadoes 

15.  Jun 6-7, 2008 Flooding 

17.  May 11-12, 2002 Flooding

18.  Jul 19, 2006 Derecho

18.  Dec 8-9, 2007 Ice Storm

20.  Dec 24-25, 2002 Christmas Eve Snowstorm

20.  Sep 4 & 14, 2008 Heavy Rains from Hurricanes Gustav & Ike is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.