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Wintry blast could dump 9 inches of snow in Illinois

Published: Sunday, March 24, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

CHICAGO – It may be spring, but that’s not stopping winter weather from barreling toward Illinois with the possibility of dumping up to 9 inches of snow on central portions of the state.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for central Illinois and much of the Midwest. Snow was forecast to begin falling around midnight Saturday and continue tonight.

A band of heavy snow could leave behind 6 to 9 inches from Taylorville to Danville. Some areas north of Peoria could get 4 to 6 inches. Forecasters expected a mixture of snow and rain south of Interstate 70.

Meteorologist Dan Smith with the National Weather Service in Lincoln said snowstorms this late in the year are not uncommon. The latest the area has seen snow, he said, was April 23 – a record set in 1910 with about 2½ inches in Springfield.

“One good thing about them is it doesn’t matter how much you get, it usually doesn’t stick around too long because temperatures start to warm up pretty good,” he said.

By the end of the coming week, temperatures in central Illinois should be closer to normal, in the mid-50s, he said.

Today’s temperatures are forecast to be near or just above freezing, so the storm is expected to produce so-called “heart-attack snow” that is very wet and difficult to shovel.

Late snow also can be a concern for farmers, but because temperatures have remained on the chilly side, there hasn’t been much early crop growth that would be at risk of damage.

“We’re pretty fortunate that we haven’t had much warm weather,” orchard owner Chris Eckert told the Belleville News-Democrat. “So all our fruit trees are relatively dormant.”

He said that because the strawberries, peaches and apples have not bloomed at his orchard, Eckert’s Country Store and Farms in Belleville, the snow and near-freezing temperatures aren’t a threat.

“The only precaution that we’ve taken is to cover our strawberry crop,” Eckert said.

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