February and Winter 2002–2003 Just Plain Cold, Illinois State Water Survey

Press Release

For Immediate Release March 4, 2003
February and Winter 2002–2003 Just Plain Cold
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

“February 2003 was the 28th coldest February in Illinois since 1895, with temperatures of 25.7 degrees (4.5 degrees below average), and December–February was the 29th coldest winter on record. Quite a plunge from last year when December–February ranked as the second warmest winter on record in 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.

Figure 1.  February 2003 Precipitation (inches)  This graphic shows precipitation varied from under 0.5 to over 5.5 inches for Illinois during this time.
February 2003 Precipitation (inches)
(Click to Enlarge Image)
Precipitation across Illinois in February (see map) was 1.95 inches (101 percent of average), continuing the pattern of the last six months: dry in northern Illinois, but near average in southern Illinois. February snowfall ranged from 1–8 inches (north), 8–12 inches (central), to 10–15 inches (south) compared to what usually occurs: 6–10 inches (north), 4–6 inches (central), to 3–4 inches (south). Statewide, precipitation this winter was 4.89 inches (75 percent of average).

February temperatures ranged from a high of 67 degrees at Grand Tower on February 3 to a low of -10 degrees at Mundelein on February 25. December–February temperatures averaged 26.6 degrees (1.6 degrees below average), compared to an average of 19.6 degrees during 1977–1978, the coldest winter on record.

“Historically, a colder-than-average winter does not necessarily lead to a cold spring or even a dry spring, but there is an increased chance of a cooler-than-average summer,” says Angel.

The National Weather Service is calling for slightly cooler and drier-than-average conditions in March and a drier-than-average March–May. The current El Niño event, never strong, has weakened further so its influence on Illinois weather also should fade.

“You’ve probably already noticed the extra daylight. Be patient. Spring is just around the corner,” advises Angel.

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