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January was warmer and wetter than normal, according to weather statistics from the Illinois State Water Survey.
The average temperature for the month was 28.5 degrees, which is 3.7 degrees above average. The average high was 37.4 degrees, and the average low was 19.1 degrees. The highest reading in January was 60 degrees on the 29th, and the lowest was 3 degrees on the 22nd.
“I think the last few days will burn the idea into the heads of most people that January was a cold month, but we had a lot of really mild weather in the middle of the month,” said state climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey.
Thirteen of the last 16 months in Champaign-Urbana have had above normal temperatures.
Meanwhile, so far this winter ― and for 722 consecutive days ― the temperature in Champaign-Urbana has stayed above zero. The last subzero reading was on Feb. 10, 2011. The record for consecutive days above zero is 1,071 days between January 1937 and December 1939.
“We could break that record,” Angel said, “because by the end of February the odds of seeing below-zero weather pretty much go away.”
There was 2.57 inches of precipitation in January, about a half-inch more than average, according to Angel.
But snowfall for the month was just 1.6 inches, less than a quarter of the January average of 6.8 inches.
“It’s the 20th-lowest number. We have had several Januarys with less than an inch for the month,” Angel said.
So far this winter, only 2.5 inches of snow has fallen on Champaign-Urbana, the sixth-lowest total through January in local winter weather history.
“I’ve been getting a lot of calls from people worried that we haven’t been getting snow. But we’ve made up for it in terms of rainfall. We’ve actually come up pretty good lately,” said Angel. “Some of that rain fell when the ground was thawed out, thanks to the warm weather. So soil moisture-wise, we’re probably doing pretty good around here. Stream flows are definitely up. In fact, we’ve had some minor flooding south of here.”
After an unusually dry first seven months of 2012, local precipitation has been above average for four of the last six months.
The Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service says chances are above average for a warmer-than-normal February in downstate Illinois, with equal chances for above average and below average precipitation.