When Can Illinois Expect the First Fall Frost?, Illinois State Water Survey

Press Release

For Immediate Release November 2, 2001
A Record-Setting October for the Central Midwest

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Contact:   
Steve Hilberg - (217) 333-8495, Fax: (217) 244-0220, hberg@illinois.edu
Mike Palecki - (217) 333-8506, palecki@illinois.edu
Eva Kingston - (217) 244-7270, Fax: (217) 333-6540, eva@sws.uiuc.edu

October weather set several precipitation records for the Midwest along with some unusual severe weather for late fall, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center located at the Illinois State Water Survey in Champaign, Illinois.

It was the wettest October on record in Michigan, second wettest in 107 years in Indiana, third wettest in Illinois, and seventh wettest in Kentucky and Ohio.

"Precipitation amounts usually average 2.75 inches (Michigan), 2.78 inches (Illinois), and 2.84 inches (Indiana). Michigan received 5.78 inches of rain, breaking the record of 5.73 inches set in 1954. The near record-setting amount in Indiana averaged 7.95 inches compared to the 8.51-inch record set in 1919. Rainfall in Illinois totaled 6.53 inches, well short of the 9.27-inch record set in 1941," says MRCC Director Steve Hilberg.

Rainfall for the Midwest averaged the fourth highest among Octobers for the nine-state region (Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio). October precipitation in the region was above normal except in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and western Iowa.

October 10-16 was the wettest period. More than 4 inches of rain fell in eastern Illinois and western Indiana. The remainder of the southeastern half of Illinois and the rest of Indiana received more than 3 inches. Precipitation totals were up to 5 inches more than normal that week and above normal throughout the entire Midwest. The core of the rainy area received more than 5.50 inches, seven times the normal amount.

A storm that moved through the Midwest on October 13-16 tapped Gulf of Mexico moisture, and a swath of moderate to heavy rain extended from the Gulf to Canada. Flooding resulted that affected the Chicago area and mostly rural areas and farmfields in some parts of Indiana. The Wabash River near Montezuma, Indiana, reached 6 feet above flood stage after 4 to 6 inches of rain between October 10 and 16.

A strong cold front that moved through the Midwest on October 23-24 also generated some severe weather that typically occurs in the spring. According to the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center, there were 19 tornados, 72 reports of severe hail, and 285 severe wind preliminary storm reports as a result of the weather over this two-day period. There was one death in Indiana and another in Michigan. More than 20 people were injured by storms in Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and Missouri.

This was the strongest October tornado outbreak in the Midwest since October 14, 1966, when 26 tornadoes occurred predominantly in the western Midwest, including a tornado in north-central Iowa that killed 6 people, injured 172 others, and caused $25 million in damages.

Thunderstorms dropped another inch of rain on many locations, and northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan experienced the season's first significant snow with snowfall totals generally exceeding 6 inches. The highest totals were measured in northwestern Minnesota at Argyle (14 inches), Hallock and Thief River Falls (11 inches), and in northern Wisconsin at Hurley and Mercer (10 inches). Lake-effect snows occurred in northern Michigan, and Marquette set new daily snowfall records on October 26 (4.5 inches) and October 27 (2.1 inches).

"Although October precipitation set some records, temperatures were generally one to three degrees below normal throughout the Midwest, but about one degree above normal in eastern Indiana and Ohio," concludes Hilberg.

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