On January 7, winter weather gave way to spring-like conditions with record-breaking warmth, heavy rains, and severe weather across Illinois. Record high temperatures were set at several locations, including Peoria (67 degrees), Chicago (65 degrees), and Champaign (67 degrees), according to State Climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey (http://www.sws.uiuc.edu), a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
During the afternoon and evening hours, severe thunderstorms moved through central and northern Illinois, producing hail, damaging winds, localized flooding, and tornadoes. Preliminary reports indicated that tornadoes appeared in Boone and McHenry counties in northern Illinois and in Mason and Tazewell counties in central Illinois.
Rainfall amounts were heavy as well, with reports of two to five inches in a wide band from western Illinois between St. Louis and Quincy northeastward to eastern Illinois between Danville and the southern suburbs of Chicago.
"This severe weather follows a December that was wet across much of Illinois. As a result, the heavy rains caused flooding of fields, roads, and rivers," Angel said.
Statewide December rainfall averaged 4.08 inches, which is 1.39 inches above normal. Heaviest rains were in southern Illinois, where several sites reported monthly totals of more than six inches, including 10.4 inches at Smithland. Statewide temperatures in December averaged 29.8 degrees, right at normal.
December snowfall was above normal across much of central and northern Illinois. Amounts ranged from close to zero inches in far southern Illinois to more than 16 inches in northern Illinois. Heaviest amounts were along the Illinois-Wisconsin border with Antioch reporting 23.7 inches and Galena reporting 22.4 inches for the month of December.
The National Weather Service January and January-March outlooks call for temperatures and precipitation above normal.
"We should see a return to more seasonable temperatures with more snow and less rain in the coming week. So, our spring-like weather was short-lived," concluded Angel.
Disclaimer: Data used for all statistics provided herein are from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center and are based on preliminary data.