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 made this the fourth 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.
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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.
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 March 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 one to two 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 one to five-inch range in the southern half of the state and five 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.”