Wednesday, Nov. 19


Illinois Winter Weather
Awareness Week    
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[NOV. 19, 2003]  Soon, winter weather will affect the people of Illinois, but now is the time to prepare. Winter storms and bitterly cold conditions have been called the "deceptive killers" because many people may not realize the dangers of these weather phenomena. The week of Nov. 16-22 has been designated as Winter Weather Awareness Week in the state of Illinois to educate the public about how to prepare for winter storms and what to do when a storm is about to strike.

Winter weather awareness activities is being conducted by the following agencies:

Preparedness information will be made available through daily NWS public information statements, NOAA Weather Radio and participating agency websites.

For the U.S. winter weather outlook issued by the Climate Prediction Center, visit the following Web page:

Click here for a winter weather fact sheet created by the National Weather Service office in Lincoln.

[News release provided by Chris Miller,
Lincoln NWS office]


National Weather Service winter weather fact sheet

The National Weather Service mission

The National Weather Service provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy. The NWS is the sole official United States voice for issuing warnings during life-threatening weather situations.

Hazardous winter weather impacts

On average, 47 people in the United States lose their lives each year due to winter storms. This ranks No. 4 on the list of storm-related fatalities, behind flooding, lightning and tornadoes.

Bitterly cold weather has resulted in 26 fatalities each year on average in the United States. This is nearly twice the number of people who die from hurricanes in this country.

About 70 percent of the people who are killed or injured due to winter storms are in automobiles. About 25 percent of the people who are killed or injured in winter storms are caught out in the storm with no place to take shelter.

Many deaths and injuries are indirectly related to winter weather occurrences that are not classified as winter storms. These include:

1. Traffic accidents on hazardous roads.

2. Heart attacks from shoveling snow or other outdoor activities.

3. Hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold.

4. Frostbite.

5. Avalanches.

Central Illinois winter weather warning statistics

Since 1998, nearly 85 percent of all winter weather storms (heavy snow and significant icing) in central Illinois have had advance warning by the NWS in Lincoln, with an average lead time of 15.4 hours.


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Interesting winter weather facts

In the Midwestern United States, the snowiest city is Marquette, Mich., with an average annual snow accumulation of nearly 130 inches! In central Illinois, the town of Minonk (northeast Woodford County) has the highest average annual snowfall, with 27.1 inches.

The biggest snowstorm to affect central Illinois occurred Dec. 18-20, 1973, when 14 to 22 inches of snow was measured along and just south of Interstate 72. The highest total was in Paris (Edgar County), which had 21.5 inches of snow.

In the Midwest, it usually takes about 13 inches of snow to yield 1 inch of water. This ratio can change from storm to storm. "Dry" snow accompanied by very cold temperatures may take as much as 25 inches of snow to yield an inch of water, while "wet" snow from weather systems that originate near the Gulf of Mexico can produce an inch of water for every 4 inches of snow.

The coldest temperature to be recorded in the state occurred in the central Illinois town of Congerville (Woodford County), when the mercury dipped to minus 36 F on Jan. 5, 1999.

The coldest temperature ever recorded in the continental U.S. was minus 70 F in Rogers Pass, Mont. Alaska's coldest reading was minus 80 F at Prospect Creek. The world record coldest temperature was minus 129 F at the South Pole.

Economic impacts of weather forecasts and warnings

33 percent of the U.S. Gross National Product is affected by National Weather Service forecasts.

Economists have estimated that improved El Nino forecasts have resulted in annual savings of nearly $300 million for U.S. agriculture by altering planting decisions.

A 1 degree improvement in temperature forecasts could decrease the annual cost of electricity by at least $1 billion.

Visit the Lincoln NWS home page at for the latest weather and river forecasts, warnings, current conditions, radar and satellite imagery, and climate information.

[Lincoln NWS office]

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