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Publication Abstract

Record Winter Storms in Illinois, 1977-1978 Changnon, Stanley A., Jr., and David Changnon, 1978  Illinois State Water Survey, Champaign, IL,  ISWS RI-88    Full Text Available

The Midwest, including Illinois, experienced in 1977-1978 its most severe winter since weather records began in the early Nineteenth Century. Illinois had a record-breaking number of 18 severe winter storms; 4 such storms is normal. The record winter began with 3 snowstorms in late November and ended with an extremely damaging ice storm in late March. Unusual snow patterns occurred with several storms and they lasted much longer than usual. Weather conditions (low pressure centers) producing many of the storms were more often of Canadian origin than usual, and these lows had lower pressure and moved slower than normal, resulting in higher surface winds and longer lasting and hence more severe storms. Cold temperatures along with frequent snows resulted in record long lasting snow cover with up to 120 days with =1 inch cover in northern Illinois and 90 days in southern Illinois. The storms led to 62 deaths and more than 2000 injuries. Utilities, communication systems, and transportation suffered great losses, though railroads benefited with increased use and helicopters and snowmobiles proved valuable in rescue service. Local, state, and federal institutions were beset with enormous and costly problems including care of roads and lost taxable income due to absenteeism.



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