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Publication Abstract

Winter 2007-2008: Record-Setting Storms Caused Major Damages in Illinois Changnon, Stanley A., Kenneth E. Kunkel, David Changnon, 2008  Illinois State Water Survey, Champaign, IL,  ISWS DCS 2008-02    Full Text Available

During the December 2007-March 2008 period, Illinois experienced a record-tying number of winter storms, a record number of rainstorms, several tornadoes, and every other form of severe weather that can occur in the Midwest. These storms resulted in 28 weather-related deaths, double the normal number, and excessive damages to vehicles, residences, and businesses in the state. Communities and government agencies faced costly repair efforts, and many people lost their homes because of major flooding.

December brought seven winter storms, a new record high, and February had four winter storms, just one value short of a record high. The 18 winter storms during December 2007-March 2008 tied the record-high value set in the winter of 1977-1978, and five storms in 2007-2008 produced blizzard conditions. There were also five warm-season type convective storms with thunderstorms, hail, and high winds, setting a new record high for a winter season. Each of the 23 storms is described in this report along with important impacts they created. In between the 23 storms during December-March were several days when record high or low temperatures occurred, plus several days with heavy fog.

Weather conditions during December 2007- March 2008 were unique for a cold season in Illinois. Records dating back to 1890 show no prior cold season with comparable conditions. Past cold seasons having numerous winter storms did not also have warm-season type storms, as occurred during the 2007-2008 cold season. The unusually high number of cold-season storms was related to a strong, active, and progressive polar jet stream impacting North America.

The unique array of numerous storms, extreme temperatures, and fogs resulted in major losses and costs in four sectors. Property damages due to heavy snow, ice, and flooding led to losses of $960 million. All forms of transportation suffered major losses and added costs that totaled $735 million. Damages to power and communication systems led to repair costs totaling $792 million. Local, state, and federal agencies expended major sums for snow and ice removal and for road and highway repairs, totaling $617 million. All told, losses and costs resulting from the December 2007-March 2008 weather conditions in Illinois were $3.5 billion. However, there were economic winners in the construction and service industries; their total benefits were $971 million.



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