2002:  Central and Southeast Illinois Year in Review



Winter season (December 2001 through February 2002):

Temperatures:  Meteorological winter of 2001-02 tied for the 5th warmest on record in Champaign, 6th warmest on record in Peoria, and 7th warmest in Springfield.  Statewide, it was the 2nd warmest winter on record.  Early December was exceptionally mild, with average temperatures of 20 to 26 degrees above normal.  Most of January saw above normal  temperatures, primarily from the 7-14th and 21-28th.  Unseasonably mild weather in late February gave way to a return to Arctic air at the end of the month.

Weather:  Two major winter storms affected parts of central and southeast Illinois during the period. One storm from January 30-31 produced major ice accumulations of 1/4 to 1 inch in an
area from Fulton and northern Mason counties, northeast to Woodford and McLean counties. Just to the north of this area, the storm produced 6 to 9 inches of snow from around Galesburg to Minonk, in addition to 1/4 to 1/2 inch of ice. As an example of the sharp snowfall gradient, in Peoria county, the Peoria Airport in the southern part of the county only registered 1.4 inches,  while Princeville in the far north recorded 8.4 inches.

The second major storm was from February 25-26, primarily affecting areas along the I-72 corridor from around Decatur east toward the Indiana border. Snowfall of 5.5 to 7 inches occurred in this area, marking this area's first major storm of the season.

Lack of snow resulted in some locations chasing records for the least amount of snow in a season. Peoria recorded only 4.2 inches for climatological winter, but a late surge of snow in March resulted in the 6th least snowiest winter on record there over the 2001-02 snow season.


Spring season (March through May):

Temperatures:  After mild weather for the previous few months, below normal temperatures were found across Illinois during March. Temperatures in some areas finally fell below zero  for the first time during the winter, on the 4th.  April averaged near to slightly above normal temperature-wise, despite cool spells the first week and the last week.  With the frequent storm systems and excessive rain during May, most of that month saw below normal weather. However, the end of May saw temperatures rise into the 90s.

Weather:  The highlight of the season was the excessively wet conditions that affected the region during the second half of April, and most of May.  Many areas recorded in excess of 5
inches of rain during April, primarily east of I-55. May was even wetter, with most areas receiving at least 6 inches and locations south of I-72 receiving 8 to 12 inches. This resulted
in major river flooding across the region throughout the period . A record Embarras River crest of 24.27 feet occurred at Lawrenceville on May 16, the Sangamon River from Riverton to Oakford was at its 2nd to 3rd highest levels on record by the 14-16th, and the middle Illinois River around Beardstown and Havana reached its 3rd to 4th highest level on record by the latter third of May.

Other highlights include: heavy snowfall of 6-8 inches west of the Illinois River on March 1-2; a winter storm producing up to 7 inches of snow and 1/2 inch of ice between I-72 and I-70 on
March 25-26; gradient winds of 45-60 mph on March 9 with a peak gust of 87 mph at Arcola; an April record wind speed at Springfield of 74 mph due to severe thunderstorms on April 19th (3rd highest wind gust on record at Springfield); and flash flooding from the excessive rainfall on April 19-20 and on Mothers Day.


Summer season (June through August):

Temperatures:  Frequent warm spells led to temperatures averaging above normal during the season. Excessive temperatures included 101 degrees near Bloomington on July 20, 100 at Chrisman and Decatur on July 21, and 100 at Hutsonville on both August 3 and 4. Much of central Illinois had highs of at least 90 degrees the first 10 days of July. By August, average  temperatures across the region were about 1 to 2 degrees above normal for the month.

Weather:  After the excessively wet April and May, the moist conditions continued into the first half of June. Much of the 4 to 6 inches of rain during the month fell during this period.
After that, dry weather prevailed the rest of the month, and into much of July and August. This was especially true south of I-72, where July rainfall was generally less than 2 inches.

In August, significant rainstorms occurred over central Illinois around mid-month. On the 16th, heavy rain caused flooding in Menard, Logan and De Witt counties. Lincoln reported 4.22
inches of rain, its wettest August day on record and the 4th highest amount of rain in a single day on record. On the 19th, northern parts of Champaign and Vermilion counties received
around 8 inches of rain in an 8 to 10 hour period, causing widespread flooding. Hoopeston reported 6.7 inches of rain from this storm.


Autumn season (September through November):

Temperatures:  While September averaged 2.5 to 3.5 degrees above normal across central Illinois, a general trend toward cooler than normal conditions set up for much of October and November. The warmest temperatures occurred in early September, peaking at 100 degrees at Hutsonville on September 8. Temperatures in the lower 90s were also reported in some areas in early October.

Weather:  As is typical during the autumn season, quiet weather prevailed over the region. However, the dry conditions of the previous few months had begun to spread northward, with areas west of I-55 averaging less than an inch of rain during September. Much of central Illinois north of a Beardstown to Bloomington line saw less than half its normal rainfall during
the season, with Peoria registering its driest autumn on record with only 2.92 inches reported.

The most significant event during the season was an outbreak of severe weather on November 10 ahead of a cold front, producing strong winds and hail up to dime size in eastern Illinois. This severe weather event became much more intense after clearing Illinois, with tornadoes killing 36 people In an area from Ohio to Alabama in one of the biggest severe weather outbreaks of the year.


Winter season to date (December 2002):

Temperatures:  The general trend of cool weather continued over the region the first week of December, with moderating conditions by mid-month.  The mildest weather was from the 17-18th, when highs were well into the 50s, and near 60 degrees in a few places.  Unseasonably warm lows in the 40s and 50s were also noted during this time.

Weather:  Much of central Illinois saw only sprinkles or flurries the first half of the month.  By December 10, areas north of I-72 were classified as being in a moderate drought.  However, heavy rains of 1 to 2 inches occurred on the 18th and 19th, with the greatest totals generally in an area from Morrisonville to Lawrenceville.

Much of the precipitation during the month has been occurring in areas south of I-70. The first winter storm of the season occurred on December 4-5, producing snowfall of 3 to 5 inches in most areas.  The highest total of 6.8 inches was reported at Lawrenceville.  Another system produced rainfall of 1/4 to 1/2 inch on the 12-13th in these areas.  Another storm system brought a very white Christmas to much of Illinois, with snow totals of 5 to 8 inches on Christmas Eve.  These heavy totals generally extended from Highway 136 into far southern Illinois.  The highest total of 9 inches occurred near Sidell, with 8 inch totals from Tuscola to Greenup, and also around Havana and Virginia.  Snowfall tapered off sharply to the northwest, with just a dusting around Galesburg.

The Lincoln NWS coverage area includes 35 counties in central and southeast Illinois.  Click here to see a map of the coverage area.

Here are some preliminary statistics covering these 35 counties:

  • Highest temperature:  101 on July 20 (5 miles west of Bloomington)

  • Lowest temperature:   -6 on March 4 (Galesburg, Chenoa, Rantoul)

  • Most rain in 24 hours:  6.70 inches on August 19 (Hoopeston)

  • Most snow in 24 hours:  6.8 inches on December 4-5 (Lawrenceville)

  • Most rain in 1 month:  12.48 inches in May (Lovington)

  • Reported tornadoes:  9 (6 of F-0 intensity, 3 of F-1).  Counties: Cass, Clay, Cumberland (3), Woodford into McLean, Morgan, Shelby, Fulton

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