December Weather Trivia for Illinois

December 1, 1970
Record warmth spread across central Illinois. High temperatures included 72 degrees at Decatur, 70 degrees in Springfield, 68 degrees in Champaign, and 65 degrees in Peoria.

December 1, 2008
A winter storm moved across the Midwest from November 30 to  December 1.  Snow accumulations in excess of 6 inches were noted just north of the I-74 corridor.  Considerable blowing snow occurred after the snow had ended.

December 2, 1982
A tremendous rainstorm in central Illinois brought 6.12 inches of rain to Springfield during a 24 hour period on the 2nd and 3rd.  This is the most rain ever to fall in the city during such a time frame. Jacksonville had 4.80 inches, and Peoria recorded 2.89 inches during this period. Lake Springfield rose two feet over the old record stage, flooding nearby land. $100,000 damage occurred to the dam at the lake, due to the tremendous flow of water.

December 3, 1978
A winter storm brought very heavy snow to the northern 1/3 of the state, with freezing rain and thunderstorms across the central third. Snow totals of 10 inches or more extended from north of the Quad Cities to the northwest Chicago suburbs.

December 4, 1973
A tornado touched down in Morgan County, moving across Murrayville and causing extensive damage to homes, trailers and other buildings.  One injury was reported.

December 5, 2002
A major winter storm brought significant snow and ice accumulations to all of southern Illinois, beginning the morning of the 4th and continuing into the morning of the 5th.  The precipitation was mostly snow, except in counties bordering the Ohio River, where the snow changed to an extended period of freezing rain.  Ice accumulations were around 1/4 inch from Cairo to Metropolis and Golconda.  Snow accumulations across southern Illinois were generally 6 to 8 inches.  Travel was heavily impacted by the winter storm.  Numerous vehicle accidents occurred.  Schools were closed for the remainder of the week in some counties.  The winter storm began during the early morning hours and ended late the following night.

December 6, 1978
Parts of northern Illinois affected by a snowstorm a few days earlier received another round of heavy snow, as did the west-central parts of the state. By the conclusion of the 3-day storm, the heaviest snow of 8 inches or more extended from near Keokuk, Iowa, northeast across the Galesburg area to near LaSalle. A second band of 6 or more inches of snow extended from near Sterling east to Chicago.

December 7, 1830
The winter of 1830-31 was known as the "Winter of the Deep Snow" in Illinois. Records from Fort Armstrong (present-day Moline), Fort Dearborn (present-day Chicago), and Augusta indicated that heavy snowfall of 2 to 3 feet had fallen during the month of December. This severe winter, along with a poor corn harvest, compelled northern Illinoisans to seek grain in southern parts of the state, which had escaped the extreme conditions of the north. The furnishing of grain led to the use of the term "Little Egypt" being used to describe southern Illinois.

December 8, 1991
A late-season outbreak of severe thunderstorms moved across central Illinois. Baseball-size hail was reported at Manito in Mason County, as well as Tremont in Tazewell County. In Menard County, tennis-ball size hail was reported at Petersburg. A tornado touched down in far southern McLean County near the town of McLean and moved east to near Heyworth. This tornado caused some damage to a manufacturing plant, as well as several outbuildings on farms along the storm's path.

December 9, 1982
Springfield's wettest December on record occurred in 1982, with 8.94 inches. Most of this fell on the 3rd and 4th of the month.  In comparison, Peoria recorded 5.45 inches during the month, less than what Springfield reported in a single day.

December 10, 1889
A normal December brings about 5 inches of snow to Springfield and Peoria. Many Decembers have seen less than an inch of snow.  However, only one year -- 1889 -- has not seen any snow during the month in Springfield. 1889 and 1890 are the only two snowless Decembers in Peoria history.

December 11, 1949
An out-of-season tornado moved across Christian and Shelby Counties, unroofing seven homes in Pana. One person was injured when a barn was destroyed.

December 11, 2000
A major winter storm affected a large part of central and northern Illinois.  The heaviest snowfall of 10 to 15 inches occurred in Cook and DuPage Counties of the Chicago area, with 6 to 10 inches as far south as central Illinois, along and north of a Canton to Morton to Gridley line.  Freezing rain and sleet mixed in with the snow, especially along and south of this line.  Northwest winds of 25 to 35 mph, with gusts to 45 mph, produced considerable blowing and drifting snow, with near blizzard conditions in northeast Illinois.  19 people in the Chicago area died while shoveling snow, from heart failure or hypothermia.

December 12, 1855
The first weather observations began in downtown Peoria this month, at the corner of Washington and East Franklin. Dr. Frederick Brendel made the first observations of temperature and precipitation. His records, which span from 1855 through 1905, serve as the backbone of the Peoria climatological database.

December 13, 2000
Between 6 and 8 inches of snow accumulated along and east of a Bloomington to Decatur to Taylorville line, with a light ice coating on top of the snow.  The snow started between 8 and 10 am, with 6 inches accumulating by 5 pm, and ending by 10 pm.   Freezing rain and sleet mixed in with the snow after 3 pm.

December 14, 1919
Champaign's driest December on record occurred in 1919, when only 0.13 inch of precipitation was measured. Springfield and Peoria both reported 0.30 inch, for 3rd driest Decembers on record in both cities.

December 15, 1987
A powerful winter storm produced 6 to 12 inches of snow in an area from Quincy to Rockford to Chicago. Winds gusting as high as 75 to 90 mph produced blizzard conditions, downed power lines, and drifted roads closed. Snow totals included 11.4 inches in Rockford, 9.1 inches at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, 11.2 inches in Moline, and 8.9 inches in Peoria. The storm system also produced thunderstorms which lasted from 2 to 4 hours, an unusual length of time for a winter storm. The thunderstorms also produced sleet and hail, with 3/4 inch hail reported in Joliet.

December 16, 1996
A narrow band of heavy snow, only about 25 miles wide, extended across southern Illinois from Carbondale to Mount Vernon.  Snowfall totals of 5 to 7 inches were reported. The precipitation initially started as rain, then changed to freezing rain and sleet before becoming snow. Numerous accidents occurred, as roads turned into skating rinks.

December 17, 1981
A two-day snowstorm produced heavy snow across the central third of Illinois. The heaviest snowfall, of 8-10 inches, fell from near Springfield east to Decatur.

December 18, 1957
An out of season severe weather outbreak produced 19 tornadoes in Illinois. Collectively, 13 people were killed and 259 injured, with property damage between $8-10 million. Tornadoes were reported as far north as Mason and Vermilion counties, but most of the tornadoes were across the southern third of the state.  The city of Murphysboro was hardest hit, with 10 people killed and electricity lost for a few days. One of the tornadoes, in Perry County, reached F5 intensity, while F4 strength tornadoes affected the Mt. Vernon and Murphysboro areas.

December 18, 2008
A powerful winter storm brought 1/4 to 3/4 inch of ice accumulation to central Illinois.  Areas along and north of I-72 were most impacted, with widespread tree damage and power lines down.  Increasing winds over the next couple days brought down additional power lines, due to the weight of the ice.  Approximately $2 million damage was reported.

December 19, 1974
Heavy snow fell across much of central and northern Illinois over a 3-day period. The storm produced 10 to 18 inches of snow. As a result, travel was at a standstill for two days. Springfield recorded a total of 14.6 inches of snow from the storm.

December 20, 1981
A three-day winter storm across central Illinois produced freezing rain on this date, followed by very heavy snow on the 22nd. Snow totals were in excess of 8 inches in an area extending from Lincoln southwest to Jacksonville. 5 to 6 inches of snow were reported as far east as Champaign. The snow tapered off sharply to the south and north, with 1 inch or less north of Peoria and south of I-70.

December 21, 1836
A spectacular cold front passed through Illinois. Although no reliable temperature records are available, estimates from eyewitness reports indicated that temperatures fell from the 40's to zero degrees almost instantly. The water in ponds and streams was pushed into waves by 70 mph winds, then frozen in place.  Small animals were frozen in their tracks. Two men near Rushville, in Schuyler County, froze to death. A man riding horseback from Chatham to Springfield started the trip in rain; by the time he arrived, his coat was frozen solid, and he was frozen onto the saddle. This was the beginning of what was referred to as the "Winter of Starving Time" in Illinois.

December 22, 1989
Bitter cold gripped a good part of the nation for several days before Christmas. At the peak of the cold wave, temperatures fell to less than 20 below zero with wind chills of 50 to 60 below zero. Peoria reported 11 consecutive days with lows below zero, tying a record; the coldest temperature of 23 below zero on the 22nd was the 5th coldest on record in Peoria. Springfield reported a monthly record low temperature of 21 below zero on the 23rd, as did Champaign on the 22nd; Decatur had its second coldest December temperature on record with a 21 below zero reading on the 22nd.

December 23, 1983
Springfield was in the midst of a record long cold wave. During the period from the 22nd through the 26th, the city saw temperatures of zero or colder for 101.5 hours. The cold spell contributed to an average temperature for the month of only 16.1 degrees, a December record.

December 23, 1996
Out-of-season severe thunderstorms moved across central and southern Illinois. Southeast of St. Louis, a tornado touched down near the town of Evansville, damaging several buildings and uprooting trees. Hail of 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter fell as far north as Tazewell and McLean Counties.

December 24, 1915
Springfield reported 10.5 inches of snow on this Christmas Eve, setting a record for the date. This served as most of the 13.4 inches that fell during the month, a total which stands as the 5th snowiest December on record.

December 25, 2009
The chances of a "White Christmas" are based on 30 years worth of climatological data, and gives the likelihood of there being at least 1 inch of snow on the ground. In Illinois, chances of a White Christmas range from around 60% near the Wisconsin border, to around 10% at the extreme south tip of the state. In central parts of Illinois, the chance is around 30% to 40%.

December 26, 1988
A narrow band of heavy snow affected northern Illinois, from Rockford to Chicago to Kankakee. Snow totals included 14 inches in Kankakee, and 9.5 inches in Rockford.

December 27, 1914
A record dry year was coming to an end in parts of central Illinois. During 1914, Springfield reported only 22.76 inches of precipitation, and Champaign had 24.68 inches. The normal amount of precipitation for a year is around 35 inches.

December 27, 2008
A strong cold front pushed into an unsesaonably warm airmass over central Illinois, causing severe thunderstorms with widespread wind damage.  In Springfield, part of the roof was blown off a school, and 3 large barns and the grandstand were damaged at the state fairgrounds.  In addition, heavy rain fell on partially frozen ground to cause flooding in a few areas.

December 28, 1924
Record cold was found across central Illinois. Peoria's low temperature of 24 degrees below zero established a December record, while daily record lows were established at Champaign, at 20 below zero, and Springfield, at 14 below zero.

December 28, 1984
Spring-like weather spread across Illinois just a week after astronomical winter began. Springfield recorded a high temperature of 74 degrees, which tied the city's December record high. A high of 70 in Peoria stands as the second warmest December temperature on record, while Champaign recorded a daily record high of 68 degrees.

December 29, 1973
Springfield's snowiest December on record was noted during this month, with a total of 22.7 inches of snow. Much of it fell in a two-day period, on the 18th and 19th. The month also serves as the 3rd snowiest month ever.

December 30, 1978
The northern 2/3 of Illinois started to feel the effects of a 3-day winter storm. Parts of the northeast received up to 20 inches of snow, with 8 inches being reported as far south as the Illinois River southwest of Peoria.

December 31, 1990
A record wet year came to an end in Peoria. A total of 55.63 inches of precipitation fell during 1990, the most since weather records began in Peoria back in 1856.


Weather Trivia:
January, February, March, April, May, June,
July, August, September, October, November, December is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.
  • Web Site Owner:
  • National Weather Service
  • Central Illinois Weather Forecast Office
  • 1362 State Route 10
  • Lincoln, IL 62656
  • 217-732-3089 (8:30 am to 4 pm)
  • Page Author: ILX Webmaster
  • Web Master's E-mail:
  • Page last modified: 31-Aug-2010 7:51 PM UTC