CHAMPAIGN – Last year was Illinois' second warmest and 10th driest year on record as the nation grappled with its worst drought in decades, the state climatologist said.
Climatologist Jim Angel, of the Illinois State Water Survey, said the average temperature statewide in 2012 was 55.5 degrees, 3.3 degrees above normal. That falls just short of the 1921 record of 55.6 degrees.
The state had warmer-than-normal temperatures during the first five months of the year and then again in July and December, Angel said.
Illinois averaged just more than 30 inches of rainfall in 2012 – about 10 inches less than normal, largely because of a scarcity of precipitation in May through July and in November. The Illinois State Water Survey says that makes last year the 10th driest since record keeping began in 1895.
Angel said the lack of rain and the heat were brutal on Illinois crops, but that soil moisture for farming will recover before the ground water and the levels of lakes, rivers and streams do.
He noted that winter is the driest time of year in Illinois, which typically averages roughly 7 inches of precipitation from January through March.
"It would take more than double of that amount (of precipitation in Illinois) to erase the deficits accumulated in 2012," Angel said.