A Look Back at 2004 in Central and Southeast Illinois


Season by Season Highlights:

Winter Season (December 1, 2003 Through February 29, 2004):

Snowfall graphic from December 13-14, 2003 Snowfall graphic from December 13-14, 2003.

Seasonal Averages:

  • Temperatures -- Above normal.
  • Precipitation -- Above normal west of the Illinois River, and below normal elsewhere.

Temperatures --The winter season featured above-normal average temperatures during December, but turned colder than normal for January and February. Unseasonably mild weather closed out December, and lingered into the first couple days of January, with another mild period from January 8-14th. Some of the coldest air of the season developed toward the end of January, with temperatures averaging 12 to 16 degrees below normal. The cool trend continued into the first half of February, but moderated for the second half of the month.

Weather - A winter storm developed across portions of central Illinois on January 3, lingering to the next day. Snow and ice with this system affected areas from Galesburg to Bloomington, with ice accumulations of around a third of an inch in McLean County. Further south, some areas south of I -70 received over 2 inches of rain from the system.

Another strong winter storm affected Illinois on the 25th. Most of this was closer to the Ohio Valley, but significant accumulations of ice occurred south of I-70. Effingham reported an inch of sleet, as well as a quarter inch of ice from freezing rain.

February was quieter, with below normal precipitation over the area. A storm system did bring a mixture of freezing rain, sleet, and snow on the 1st.

Spring Season (March 1 through May 31):


Tornado track evident in the dirt, along the McLean/Livingston County line. A flight-level view of a tornado track which crossed from McLean County into Livingston County (lower right to upper left) on May 23.  Photo courtesy of Roger Stoller.

Seasonal averages:

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

Temperatures -- Overall during the period, temperatures were above long-term averages. Cooler spells occurred from March 11-17th, and from April 10-16th.

Weather -- On March 5th, as strong low pressure moved from Iowa to Wisconsin, winds across central Illinois gusted over 50 mph. Galesburg and Peoria both reported 58 mph gusts. The strong winds blew over several trucks, as well as a city bus in Champaign, which fell 15 feet off a bridge.

The first tornado of the season occurred April 20th, when a tornado touched down in Douglas County northwest of Tuscola. A total of 7 tornadoes occurred that day, with the more significant ones in Stark and Marshall Counties near Camp Grove. The storms which produced this particular tornado later moved into areas around La Salle and Utica, producing a strong tornado which killed several people in Utica.

A tornado touched down in far northern McLean County on May 23rd, near Gridley, passing near Chenoa before moving into Livingston County. This tornado, of F2 strength, was on the ground for a little over 5 miles. The next day, tornadoes affected Winchester and Jacksonville late in the evening, with one fatality 2 miles southwest of Winchester. The tornado in Jacksonville, of F2 intensity, was embedded in an area of straight-line wind damage.

Summer Season (June 1 through August 31):

July 13 tornado near Roanoke, IL F4 tornado striking the Parsons Manufacturing Plant near Roanoke on July 13.  Photo courtesy of Scott Smith.


Seasonal Averages:

  • Temperatures -- Below Normal.
  • Precipitation -- Near Normal.

Temperatures -- Much of this summer (June/July/August) saw temperatures well below normal. Springfield had its coolest summer on record, with an average temperature of 70.4 degrees. Peoria saw only 4 days with high temperatures of 90 degrees or above, and Springfield only had 5 days, compared to the 13 to 18 days with highs at or above 90 normally seen in central Illinois. However, tropical weather on July 13th did produce dewpoint values above 80 degrees across much of central Illinois, and heat index values of 110 to 120.

One particular cool stretch was during the period from August 11-16th. Temperatures averaged 5 to 10 degrees below normal during this period, with record lows occurring on almost every day, as well as record cold high temperatures. Lincoln had its coolest August day on record on August 12th, when the high temperature only reached 63 degrees.

Weather -- The most significant weather event during the period occurred on July 13th. Isolated thunderstorms which had developed in the northwest tip of the state near midday moved southeast and became more numerous early in the afternoon. A tornado touched down around 2:35 PM near Metamora, in Woodford County. It quickly grew in size and intensity, and was at F4 strength (210-240 mph) as it demolished a manufacturing plant 4 miles west of Roanoke around 2:40 PM. Although there were approximately 140 people in the plant at the time, all personnel made it to storm shelters before the tornado struck. Later that day, the storms affected east central Illinois, producing winds of 60 to 80 mph in Champaign County. In Ludlow, 40 homes received damage.

Flash flooding occurred across portions of east central Illinois on June 10th, with 4 to 6 inches of rain across Champaign and Vermilion Counties. The same system that produced this flooding also produced wind gusts over 60 mph, as well as a few tornadoes.

While not weather-related, much of central Illinois was shaken by an earthquake early on June 28th. The quake was centered in north central Illinois near Ottawa, but was felt as far south as Taylorville and Charleston/Mattoon. The quake was rated as a 4.1 on the Richter Scale.

On August 25-26th, flooding occurred across portions of central and southeast Illinois, as strong storms moved across the area. Rainfall totals included 5.70 inches at Hoopeston (Vermilion County), 4.69 inches near Clay City (Clay County), and 4.23 inches at Virginia (Cass County).

Autumn Season (September 1 through November 30):


Wintry landscape at the National Weather Service on Thanksgiving morning. A wintry landscape on Thanksgiving morning at the National Weather Service office in Lincoln.

Seasonal Averages:

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

Temperatures -- September and October featured temperatures averaging near normal across Illinois, with warmer than normal weather in November. The first freeze of the season occurred earlier than normal in most locations (early October), but locations south of I-70 did not freeze until November.

Temperatures in the lower 80s occurred across central Illinois as late as October 29th.

Weather -- Dry weather prevailed during September. Springfield reported only 0.24 inches during the month, and Lincoln 0.47 inches, both serving as the third driest September on record. A trend of wetter conditions returned in October, especially in locations south of I-74. Rainfall across the area on October 13-14th was partially from the remnants of Tropical Storm Matthew.

In November, rainfall of 1.5 to 2.5 inches occurred during the first week of the month, with another inch south of I-70 during the second week. The last tornado of the year also occurred during this time, touching down in Champaign County near Sidney on November 1st.

An unusually early winter storm affected portions of central Illinois on November 24th, the day before Thanksgiving. Storm totals of 4 to 8 inches were common in areas west of I-55, to the Illinois River. Totals were enhanced by thunderstorms, which produced very heavy snow at times. The snow was an extremely wet and heavy snow, and when combined with wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph, led to trees and power lines coming down from the weight of the snow. Several people in Springfield were injured in a roof collapse downtown. Some locations were without power until the following Sunday, and many people had to resort to using outdoor grills to cook their Thanksgiving dinners due to lack of electricity.

The snow melted quickly during the end of the month, and the high moisture content resulted in flooding developing on area rivers.

Winter season to date -- December 2004 (through December 27):

Temperatures -- 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.

Weather -- Heavy rainfall of 1.2 to 1.8 inches occurred from the 6-8th. This helped prolong some of the river flooding that had developed in late November.

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

Statistics for the 35-county Lincoln NWS coverage area:

  • Highest Temperature:  96 degrees at Effingham and Flora 5NW on July 22nd.

  • Lowest Temperature:  15 degrees below zero at Robinson on January 31st and December 25th, and at Loami 3SSW on February 1st.

  • Most Rain in 24 Hours:  5.10 inches at Bismarck on June 10th.

  • Most Snow in 24 Hours:  8.0 inches at Havana 4NNE on November 24th, and at Lawrenceville on December 23rd.

  • Most Rain in 1 Month:  11.58 inches at Hoopeston in June.

  • Most Snow in 1 Month:  13.3 inches at Galesburg in January.

  • Reported Tornadoes:  31.  By F-Scale intensity:  F0= 21.  F1= 7.  F2= 2.  F3= 0.  F4=1.  Click here for specific reports.


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