Wet, Windy March Lives Up to Its Reputation, Illinois State Water Survey

Press Release

For Immediate Release April 2, 2004
Wet, Windy March Lives Up to Its Reputation
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

“After concerns in Illinois about dry soils at the end of February, soil moisture is more than adequate now that March is over. Above normal rainfall left water standing in fields and ditches, with some localized flooding in central Illinois,” 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.

Precipitation in March throughout Illinois was 4.49 inches, 140 percent of normal, and the 20th wettest March since 1895. Urbana reported the highest monthly total, 7.74 inches, and the 3rd wettest March since their records began.

Overall, March temperatures averaged 44.7 degrees statewide, 3.7 degrees above normal, making this the 15th warmest March since 1895. Extremes ranged from 81 degrees at Cairo on March 29 to 7 degrees on March 12 at Peru.

Winds up to 60 mph from a strong, low-pressure system roared across the state and caused several highway accidents and massive power outages for thousands of customers in the Chicago area on March 5.

“Most of the northern half of Illinois reported snowfall, largely as a result of another low-pressure system through the state on March 16. Moline and Galesburg both reported the highest monthly snowfall total, 6 inches. Since October 1, 2003, total snowfall is down 12–15 inches across northeastern Illinois, down 3–12 inches in most of the rest of Illinois, but near normal in a small region around Moline,” says Angel.

“With the arrival of spring and its wide temperature swings, don’t forget that the average date of the last frost ranges from April 7 (southern Illinois), April 14–21 (central Illinois), to April 28 (far northern Illinois),” advises Angel. For more information, see http://www.sws.uiuc.edu/atmos/statecli/Frost/frost.htm.

“Historically, a wet March does not necessarily mean a wet April or even a wet spring. Fields should dry out soon in most locations as the next two weeks look fairly dry according to the National Weather Service forecast,” concludes Angel.

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