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Chicago Urban Gardening

The day to day experiences of a University of Illinois Extension Urban Horticulture Educator in Chicago, Illinois
Ice Storm

Weather Information and Observation Programs Available

Posted by Ron Wolford -

"Many people have commented on how almost 'picture-perfect' most of the autumn season 2010 had been, for completing harvest and just enjoying the weather", says John Church, University of Illinois Extension Educator, Natural Resources. "That, of course, was up until the devastating storms and tornadoes of November 22 that occurred across much of northern Illinois", he adds.

An abundance of sunny, cloud-free days; exceptionally long dry periods of time; and delayed measurable snowfall all converted quickly in one day to tornadoes, rain, wind and cold temperatures.

Changes in the weather are common in northern Illinois, even if not always so dramatic. Many people like to monitor and record the various weather conditions from year to year. Several websites can help persons find weather-related details for local, state and national statistics, as well as to participate in a volunteer weather observation program.

First, for a variety of additional information, go to the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) State Climatologist Jim Angel's website at, which is located at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

Persons interested in comparing precipitation to the long term average or other locations, can also get information at the Midwestern Regional Climate center web site There are two pages to find this information, depending on the format preferred. On the left-hand menu, select "Climate of the Midwest", then "Climate Summaries". Select the location you would like (locations are in alphabetical order), select "Precipitation", then the "GO" button. If you want to select your location by county, click on Illinois on the map. When the Illinois map appears, select the "Precipitation" button, the click on the county you want. A window will open with the stations available in that county.

Persons can also access this information by selecting "Climate of the Midwest", then select "Climate Calendars". Go through the selections to select a station and month. This will generate a one page table of daily average data in a calendar format. The calendar also includes the monthly average data. Only stations for which there are "published normals" from the National Climatic Data Center are included, but there are quite a few. The data is available for Illinois and 8 other Midwestern states.

Persons interested in personally collecting data and observing weather for the National Weather Service can be a part of the state and national "Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow" (CoCoRaHS) network. It is a grassroots volunteer system of backyard weather observers of all ages working together to measure and map precipitation – rain, hail and snow – in their local communities. It is coordinated by the ISWS in Illinois. Persons interested in joining as a volunteer are encouraged to attend a local training session. Check the CoCoRaHS web page at for more information. Click on the map of Illinois for local information.

Source: John Church, Extension Educator, Natural Resources Management,

Pull date: April 30, 2011

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