Late January Storm Reduces Concerns over Dry Soil Moisture in Illinois, Illinois State Water Survey

Press Release

For Immediate Release February 4, 2002
Late January Storm Reduces Concerns over Dry Soil Moisture in Illinois

Jim Angel - (217) 333-0729, Fax: (217) 244-0220,
Eva Kingston - (217) 244-7270, Fax: (217) 333-6540,
"Soil moisture conditions over Illinois for spring have improved with the first significant winter storm that struck Illinois on January 30-31, generating a large swath of snow across the northern half of the state (see figure), freezing rain south of the snow band, and rain over the rest of the state," says State Climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey ( in Champaign.

Figure 1. January 30-31, 2002, snowfall (inches) based on preliminary data.
Precipitation was heaviest south of the band of maximum snow. Some west-central Illinois locations received more than 3 inches: Morton (3.41 inches), Washington (3.31 inches), and Peoria (3.17 inches).

Based on preliminary storm data, Galesburg reported 17.3 inches of snow, and snowfall amounts of 10-12 inches were common in the Chicago area. There were reports of 12.3 inches (Chicago Botanic Garden), 12 inches (O'Hare), and 11.1 inches (Midway).

"Even with this storm, winter snowfall remains at less than 50 percent of normal across central Illinois and less than 75 percent of normal across northern Illinois. Southern Illinois is at or above normal winter snowfall thanks to an earlier storm on January 18-19 that dropped between 3 and 6 inches at most locations. Normal February snowfall ranges from 8 inches in northeastern Illinois to 4-6 inches in central Illinois to 3 inches in southern Illinois. So we still have a chance for more snow this winter," says Angel.

The 33.2oF average January temperature was 8.4 degrees above normal, the sixth warmest January on record since 1895 and tied with 1914 and 1921. The warmest January on record was 1933 with 37.6oF. South of a line from Galesburg to Kankakee, the average temperature was at or above 32oF. Based on preliminary data this month, only Galesburg reported a below zero January temperature, -1oF on January 2. Because December and November temperatures also were above average, the combined November-January period was the second warmest on record since 1895.

"Through January 29, precipitation for the state was only 31 percent of normal. However, the late-month storm boosted the statewide total to 2.19 inches, 0.27 inches above normal. The storm also alleviated some concern about having adequate soil moisture for spring crops ," concludes Angel.

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