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Illinois records fourth warmest winter

State's average temperature was 5.2 degrees above normal

Published: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 7:00 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 4:09 p.m. CDT

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The statewide average temperature for this winter, including the months of December, January and February, was 34.2 degrees.

That was 5.2 degrees above normal and the fourth warmest winter on record, says Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The warmest winter on record was 1931-1932 at 37.1 degrees. This was followed by a two-way tie for second place with 1997-1998 and 2001-2002, at 34.5 degrees. This winter was a close fourth, at 34.2 degrees.

Besides the overall warm weather, this winter will be remembered for the lack of days below zero at most locations. The coldest readings in the state were a mere minus-6 degrees at both Elizabeth and Galena in the northwestern corner of the state.

The statewide average precipitation for winter was 6.73 inches, just 0.24 inches below normal. Much of that precipitation fell as rain and not snow. Snowfall totals were 50 to 75 percent of normal across much of northern Illinois, and 25 to 50 percent of normal in central and southern Illinois.

The snowiest spot in the state through the end of February was Woodstock, with 27.9 inches, followed closely by Stockton, with 27.6 inches, and Mt. Carroll with 27.3 inches.

At Morris, the Grundy County Emergency Management Agency, Weather Data Division, recorded 12.5 inches of snow for the season through the end for February.

The statewide average temperature for February was 35.1 degrees, 4.6 degrees above average, and the 15th warmest February on record. The statewide average precipitation was 1.55 inches, 0.4 inches below normal.

Snowfall ranged from less than an inch in southern Illinois to 3 inches in central Illinois. It was a little snowier in the northern third of the state with amounts ranging from 3 to 8 inches.

In Grundy County during February, the average temperature was 33 degrees, with the high point for the month coming on Feb. 29, when the mercury climbed to 59 degrees. The coldest temperature recorded during the month was 10 degrees on Feb. 11. There were five days during the month when the temperature did not reach the freezing mark or below.

Precipitation in February measured 1.56 inches, but snowfall for the month was only 1.3 inches, as measurable snow fell on just two days. There was measurable rain on six days during the month, with the highest single-day measurement of liquid precipitation being the .44 inches that fell in the 24 hours preceding 8 a.m. on Feb. 16.

Of course, Illinois resident could see more snow in March, especially in northern Illinois. However, the National Weather Service outlook for March calls for a very high chance of above normal temperatures, Angel says.

The Illinois State Water Survey at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a division of the Prairie Research Institute, is the primary agency in Illinois concerned with water and atmospheric resources.

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