January Cold and Dry, but Winter Temps Near Average, Illinois State Water Survey

Press Release

For Immediate Release February 4, 2003
January Cold and Dry, but Winter Temps Near Average
Jim Angel - (217) 333-0729, Fax: (217) 244-0220, jimangel@illinois.edu
Eva Kingston - (217) 244-7270, Fax: (217) 333-6540, eva@sws.uiuc.edu

“January 2003 was well below average, the 28th coldest and 11th driest January in Illinois since 1895, but temperatures for the winter as a whole are near average. Statewide temperatures in January averaged 22.0 degrees (2.8 degrees below average), and precipitation was 0.72 inches (37 percent of average),” says State Climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey (http://www.sws.uiuc.edu), a division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Winter is now two-thirds over, and colder January temperatures negated warm temperatures in December. December–January temperatures averaged 27.1 degrees, just 0.2 degrees below average.

“Temperatures ranged from -15 degrees at Congerville on January 27, the coldest reading, to 71 degrees at Grand Tower on January 9, the warmest reading,” says Angel.

Precipitation has been below average since September, especially in northern Illinois, which received just 1.55 inches (42 percent of average) in December–January, 2.24 inches (35 percent of average) in November–January, and 6.62 inches (53 percent of average) in September–January).“Statewide, December–January totals were 3.03 inches (66 percent of average and 21st driest since 1895), November–January totals were 4.09 inches (52 percent of average and 12th driest since 1895), and September–January totals were 9.15 inches (65 percent of average and 13th driest since 1895),” continues Angel.

“The latest U.S. Drought Monitor (http://www.drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html) indicates the northern half of Illinois is in moderate drought, the first of four levels of drought. A band across north-central Illinois is in severe drought, the second level. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/seasonal_drought.html) expects this area of drought to persist through April and expand southward into south-central Illinois. This outlook is based on the tendency for a dry spring at the end of El Niño events, a relationship that may not apply this spring because this event has been weak.

“Timing and intensity determine a drought’s environmental effects, but there have been relatively few impacts because this drought’s core has not been during the growing season. Historical data for Illinois indicate only a 26 percent chance of a dry spring after a dry September–January so there is a is a fair chance of soil moisture recovery this spring,” concludes Angel.

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