Illinois in March was cold and dry

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[April 03, 2014]  CHAMPAIGN The statewide average temperature for March in Illinois was 33.8 degrees, which was 7 degrees below average and the eighth-coldest March on record. Combined with the colder-than-average January and February, that made this the fourth-coldest start (23.6 degrees) for the year in Illinois to date, according to Jim Angel, state climatologist, at the Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois.

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

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

The statewide average precipitation last month was 1.49 inches, which was 1.49 inches below average and the 11th-driest March on record. The statewide average precipitation last year in 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 from average since July 1 is 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.

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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."

[Text from file received from the Illinois State Water Survey]

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