March was Cold and Dry in Illinois, Illinois State Water Survey

ISWS Press Release

For Immediate Release April 1, 2014
March was Cold and Dry in Illinois
Source:   
Editor:   
Jim Angel, Ph.D. - (217) 333-0729, jimangel@illinois.edu
Lisa Sheppard - (217) 244-7270, sheppard@illinois.edu

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The statewide average temperature for March in Illinois was 33.8 degrees, which was 7 degrees below average and the 8th coldest March on record. Combined with the colder-than-average January and February made this the 4th coldest start (23.6 degrees) for Illinois for the year to date, according to State Climatologist Jim Angel at the Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois.

This was the fifth month in a row with temperatures much below average in Illinois. At this point, it was the second coldest November-March on record for Illinois at 29.1 degrees.

Monthly Precipitation Departure for Illinois for 2013/14

If this cold March felt familiar, it was because last March was cold as well. The statewide average temperature for March 2013 was only 34.1 degrees.

The statewide average precipitation was 1.49 inches, which was 1.49 inches below average and the 11th driest on record. The statewide average precipitation last March was much higher at 2.74 inches. Eight out of the last nine months have had below-average precipitation. As a result, the statewide precipitation departure since July 1 was 7.2 inches.

Most of the state received between 1 to 2 inches of precipitation in March. It was wettest in the far south and driest in the northwest. All areas of the state had below-average precipitation. This would be of more concern if March had been warm. However, with the colder conditions very little drying took place.

Snowfall amounts were in the 1- to 5-inch range in the southern half of the state and 5 to 15 inches or more in the northern half. Mendota reported the highest monthly total of 17.9 inches. The entire state was above average on snowfall for the month.

“While it seems like a contradiction to report above-average snowfall and below-average precipitation for March, it really is not,” Angel says. “The problem is that we have had few rainfall events in March, which was unusual. So we ended up with a lot of snow, but the water content of all that snow did not make up for the lack of rain.”

 

The Illinois State Water Survey at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a division of the Prairie Research Institute, is the primary agency in Illinois concerned with water and atmospheric resources.


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