Late December Heavy Rains, Flooding in Illinois

A large, slow-moving low-pressure system moved through the central US, bringing widespread, heavy rains to Illinois and neighboring state. This resulted in considerable flooding ranging from flooded basements to major flooding on the Mississippi River.

Rainfall Maps for December 26-29, 2015

This first map shows the widespread heavy rains from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and Indiana. Areas in the three shades of red represent amounts of 5 to 10 inches. The purple streak from Oklahoma to Missouri represents 10 to 15 inches of rain.

Southern and central Illinois were hardest hit with large areas of 5 to 10 inches of rain, falling on soils that were already saturated. Meanwhile, the northern third of Illinois received 2 to 4 inches of precipitation (rain plus water content of snow), as well as 1 to 4 inches of snow.

map1

This second map zooms in on Illinois, showing the heavy rains across the state more clearly. The lightest shade of red is 5 to 6 inches, the next darker shade is 6 to 8 inches, and the darkest shade of red east of St. Louis and south of Decatur is 8 to 10 inches.

To put this in perspective, the average December precipitation for Illinois ranges from 4.5 inches in southern Illinois to 2 inches in northwest Illinois. So areas in central Illinois, where the average is about 3 inches, received about 3 times that over the course of 4 days.

map2

Flooding

These heavy rains have led to widespread flooding. Here is the NWS map of rivers and streams in various stages of flooding. The purple dots and squares represent areas of major flooding, mostly the Mississippi River from St. Louis southward.

“Major Flooding” means extensive inundation of structures and roads. Significant evacuations of people and property. Red means moderate flooding (some risk of flooding to structures and roads) and tan means minor flooding. 

map3

Here is a NWS river flood forecast at Chester IL on the Mississippi River, showing the impact of the heavy rains upstream. Right now they are expecting a record, or near record, stage at that point of the river.

map4

Rainfall Totals for December 26-29, 2015

Here are some rainfall totals from our volunteer CoCoRaHS network around the state, ranked from highest to lowest, with complete data from December 26-29, 2015. Godfrey IL, near St. Louis, reported the highest 4-day total of 10.03 inches.

 

Station
Number
Station Name Total Precip (inches)
 IL-MD-34 Godfrey 2.5 SSW 10.03
 IL-MD-28 Staunton 4.3 SSW 8.90
 IL-SH-1 Shelbyville 0.5 NE 8.87
 IL-MD-10 Granite City 1.4 ENE 8.57
 IL-EF-13 Effingham 6.7 N 7.61
 IL-CN-3 Pana 6.2 NNE 7.45
 IL-MP-12 Carlinville 1.1 E 7.42
 IL-SC-18 Fairmont City 0.9 ENE 7.05
 IL-MY-1 Nokomis 4.5 NW 6.98
 IL-RH-7 Sparta 1.6 SW 6.74
 IL-CN-7 Taylorville 0.6 ENE 6.73
 IL-DG-12 Camargo 4.5 ESE 6.65
 IL-RH-8 Sparta 1.9 SSW 6.56
 IL-SH-3 Mode 3.7 NW 6.51
 IL-ED-6 Chrisman 3.6 ESE 6.50
 IL-DG-11 Tuscola 0.6 NNE 6.27
 IL-MP-18 Girard 0.1 WSW 6.26
 IL-MA-1 Mount Zion 0.8 ESE 6.22
 IL-CN-4 Edinburg 3.0 W 6.15
 IL-CP-21 Broadlands 0.1 SSW 6.13
 IL-DG-4 Tuscola 0.5 WSW 6.10
 IL-MD-20 Edwardsville 0.9 WSW 6.08
 IL-MD-33 Troy 1.5 SSE 6.04
 IL-WM-4 Bush 2.0 ESE 6.02
 IL-MP-4 Girard 1.2 W 5.97
 IL-SC-11 Centreville 1.9 E 5.87
 IL-WS-3 Okawville 2.3 SW 5.76
 IL-CL-2 Marshall 4.6 W 5.75
 IL-PT-1 Monticello 3.5 NNE 5.72
 IL-CP-14 Philo 0.3 NE 5.68
 IL-SC-9 Belleville 4.5 WNW 5.67
 IL-CP-1 Homer 2.0 N 5.63
 IL-SC-3 Belleville 2.2 SE 5.57
 IL-EF-10 Watson 0.3 NE 5.52
 IL-SC-23 Belleville 2.7 SSE 5.52
 IL-MC-1 Belknap 11.1 ESE 5.45
 IL-JF-4 Mount Vernon 1.3 SW 5.44
 IL-CP-58 Urbana 0.9 SSE 5.43
 IL-VR-19 Danville 7.6 N 5.34
 IL-MG-9 Jacksonville 1.2 SW 5.26
 IL-CP-95 Urbana 4.2 ESE 5.15
 IL-VR-4 Henning 3.4 SSE 5.15
 IL-SG-4 Riverton 1.9 W 5.12
 IL-PT-6 Monticello 6.5 WSW 5.11
 IL-CP-31 St. Joseph 0.9 SSW 5.04
 IL-MG-6 Murrayville 0.4 NE 5.03
 IL-CP-90 Champaign 2.4 S 5.02
 IL-VR-20 Westville 0.6 SSW 4.99
 IL-RC-3 Olney 0.7 E 4.95
 IL-PT-8 White Heath 3.7 NNE 4.94
 IL-VR-14 Danville 0.6 NW 4.94
 IL-CP-37 Sidney 0.9 N 4.93
 IL-CP-59 Mahomet 1.7 NNE 4.92
 IL-CP-92 Mahomet 1.2 S 4.90
 IL-MN-5 Odin 0.5 SSE 4.88
 IL-SG-47 Springfield 6.6 S 4.85
 IL-CP-64 Champaign 2.4 SSE 4.83
 IL-PT-13 Mansfield 3.0 WSW 4.83
 IL-SG-17 Springfield 4.4 W 4.83
 IL-CP-81 Dewey 1.6 NNW 4.75
 IL-LG-36 Lincoln 1.7 W 4.71
 IL-CS-3 Arenzville 5.3 NNE 4.68
 IL-ME-10 Athens 2.4 NNW 4.61
 IL-SG-11 Chatham 1.4 ESE 4.56
 IL-MO-4 Fults 3.7 ENE 4.50
 IL-LG-8 Lincoln 1.4 SE 4.46
 IL-ME-9 Athens 1.0 N 4.46
 IL-LG-13 Lincoln 0.9 NNW 4.38
 IL-LG-22 Lincoln 0.87 SE 4.38
 IL-CK-14 Chicago 5.5 ESE 4.36
 IL-MCL-4 Heyworth 0.6 E 4.35
 IL-MCL-7 Le Roy 4.1 SSW 4.31
 IL-LG-9 Beason 4.0 SW 4.27
 IL-PT-17 Monticello 3.8 NNE 4.25
 IL-VR-17 Hoopeston 0.8 W 4.18
 IL-LG-40 Lincoln 0.4 NE 4.17
 IL-CP-47 Champaign 2.3 NNW 4.15
 IL-FK-5 West Frankfort 0.3 WNW 4.02
 IL-LG-30 Atlanta 7.1 W 4.01
 IL-CP-28 Champaign 1.3 SSW 4.00
 IL-MCL-30 Saybrook 4.3 SSE 3.96
 IL-SG-48 Springfield 2.6 WNW 3.92
 IL-FD-9 Gibson 3.0 WNW 3.86
 IL-CW-3 Hutsonville 0.3 WNW 3.79
 IL-LV-6 Pontiac 1.0 SE 3.71
 IL-GY-2 Dwight 4.1 NNW 3.68
 IL-TZ-26 Pekin 3.6 SSE 3.66
 IL-MCL-23 Normal 1.9 ESE 3.53
 IL-KK-7 Kankakee 4.5 WNW 3.44
 IL-KK-23 Bonfield 4.0 WSW 3.40
 IL-SG-44 Sherman 4.1 N 3.40
 IL-KK-25 Bonfield 4.2 NNE 3.39
 IL-MCL-2 Arrowsmith 1.7 NNE 3.25
 IL-WF-12 Germantown Hills 1.3 NW 3.21
 IL-IR-2 Ashkum 5.6 E 3.19
 IL-LV-7 Chatsworth 0.4 ESE 3.19
 IL-WL-23 Beecher 3.4 SSE 3.15
 IL-CK-145 Oak Park 1.5 S 3.14
 IL-MCL-9 Danvers 1.7 WNW 3.14
 IL-WL-26 Manhattan 0.8 ESE 3.14
 IL-GY-12 Braceville 0.5 SSE 3.12
 IL-WL-131 Homer Glen 0.7 NNE 3.12
 IL-GY-9 Mazon 0.5 ENE 3.10
 IL-CK-82 Burnham-Hegewisch 1.6 NNW 3.09
 IL-PR-9 Dunlap 2.6 S 3.09
 IL-WL-73 Wilmington 2.6 SE 3.09
 IL-WL-20 Manhattan 4.7 ENE 3.00
 IL-CK-152 Chicago Ridge 0.2 WSW 2.99
 IL-CK-206 Park Forest 1.0 SW 2.98
 IL-TZ-14 Morton 1.0 SSE 2.97
 IL-WL-63 New Lenox 1.8 SE 2.96
 IL-CK-154 Worth 0.1 E 2.92
 IL-GY-10 Minooka 0.3 NE 2.88
 IL-WL-118 Elwood 4.6 NE 2.84
 IL-GY-1 Carbon Hill 3.1 N 2.83
 IL-WL-97 New Lenox 3.3 E 2.83
 IL-WL-99 Manhattan 1.9 SE 2.83
 IL-GY-21 Coal City 2.8 N 2.82
 IL-MCD-7 Colchester 3.5 NE 2.80
 IL-CK-253 Midlothian 0.1 SSE 2.79
 IL-WL-67 Channahon 2.5 SSE 2.75
 IL-DP-79 Burr Ridge 1.9 SW 2.73
 IL-LS-33 Streator 3.7 ENE 2.73
 IL-WL-16 Homer Glen 0.8 ENE 2.73
 IL-WL-25 Crete 2.6 E 2.72
 IL-HN-1 Dallas City 3.0 SSE 2.71
 IL-KK-26 Kankakee 3.2 SE 2.70
 IL-GY-16 Morris 6.4 ESE 2.68
 IL-LS-1 Ottawa 1.3 NW 2.65
 IL-CK-50 Palos Park 1.3 SW 2.64
 IL-CK-153 Alsip 0.2 E 2.64
 IL-WL-71 Plainfield 1.1 SW 2.62
 IL-CK-196 Harwood Heights 1.9 NNE 2.61
 IL-CK-211 Oak Lawn 1.6 WNW 2.60
 IL-LS-17 Ottawa 1.6 N 2.58
 IL-CR-4 Chadwick 2.7 WSW 2.56
 IL-DP-127 Downers Grove 0.4 NNE 2.55
 IL-WL-100 Joliet 2.9 WNW 2.54
 IL-CK-180 Park Ridge 0.5 SSW 2.50
 IL-DP-85 Villa Park 1.0 NW 2.50
 IL-KD-24 Oswego 5.0 SSE 2.50
 IL-WL-119 Homer Glen 1.6 NW 2.50
 IL-WL-80 Lockport 1.3 SE 2.48
 IL-CK-106 Hoffman Estates 4.6 W 2.45
 IL-LK-42 Gurnee 1.6 W 2.44
 IL-CK-61 Oak Park 1.0 SW 2.42
 IL-DP-57 Aurora 3.5 NE 2.42
 IL-CK-232 Rogers Park 0.6 ESE 2.40
 IL-CK-98 La Grange Park 0.7 SSW 2.37
 IL-DP-102 Bolingbrook 2.7 NE 2.34
 IL-DP-32 Lisle 1.3 SE 2.32
 IL-LS-7 Sheridan 3.4 SSE 2.32
 IL-LS-56 Ottawa 0.4 N 2.32
 IL-DP-77 Roselle 1.1 W 2.31
 IL-GY-20 Morris 2.5 SSE 2.30
 IL-KN-62 Batavia 1.3 WNW 2.29
 IL-KX-9 Knoxville 0.7 NW 2.29
 IL-GY-11 Morris 4.8 NNW 2.27
 IL-LS-57 Mendota 0.4 ENE 2.26
 IL-CK-75 Elk Grove Village 2.2 WSW 2.25
 IL-CK-149 Oak Lawn 0.5 SSW 2.25
 IL-LE-8 Ashton 0.4 SSW 2.22
 IL-DP-132 Wheaton 2.0 NNE 2.19
 IL-HD-1 Stronghurst 0.4 SSW 2.19
 IL-CK-94 Lincolnwood 1.8 E 2.18
 IL-BU-8 Tiskilwa 2.1 N 2.16
 IL-LK-8 Gurnee 2.5 NE 2.15
 IL-LK-22 Lake Forest 2.1 NNE 2.15
 IL-DP-109 Elmhurst 0.8 ESE 2.14
 IL-KN-51 Sugar Grove 1.4 ENE 2.14
 IL-DP-75 Naperville 1.1 NW 2.13
 IL-LS-34 La Salle 0.1 W 2.11
 IL-KN-4 Sugar Grove 0.7 NE 2.10
 IL-CK-63 Elk Grove Village 0.6 ESE 2.09
 IL-DP-101 Aurora 3.8 SE 2.09
 IL-KD-34 Plainfield 4.8 SW 2.09
 IL-LK-39 Riverwoods 0.4 ENE 2.09
 IL-DP-40 Lombard 1.0 NNW 2.08
 IL-KN-33 North Aurora 1.5 NE 2.08
 IL-LK-69 Highwood 0.9 S 2.06
 IL-KN-63 Geneva 1.7 WSW 2.04
 IL-DP-100 Bartlett 1.1 SE 2.00
 IL-WL-46 Peotone 0.4 ENE 1.99
 IL-LS-11 Mendota 0.9 N 1.98
 IL-DK-24 Somonauk 1.9 NE 1.95
 IL-LK-16 Buffalo Grove 1.5 N 1.95
 IL-DP-16 Aurora 3.6 SE 1.94
 IL-WN-26 Rockford 1.5 ENE 1.92
 IL-KN-23 Batavia 1.5 WNW 1.91
 IL-KN-30 Elburn 0.4 NW 1.90
 IL-KN-64 St. Charles 0.1 E 1.84
 IL-KN-9 Elgin 1.0 S 1.82
 IL-WN-8 Rockford 0.7 NW 1.82
 IL-BN-14 Capron 0.1 N 1.78
 IL-KN-110 Elgin 1.9 NE 1.78
 IL-LE-21 Dixon 5.2 WSW 1.74
 IL-LK-3 Beach Park 1.4 W 1.69
 IL-MCH-43 Algonquin 0.7 N 1.69
 IL-MCH-30 Wonder Lake 0.8 WNW 1.66
 IL-LK-81 Lake Villa 2.3 WSW 1.63
 IL-CK-131 Schaumburg 2.0 E 1.62
 IL-KN-95 Elgin 2.5 W 1.53
 IL-WN-3 Machesney Park 3.1 ENE 1.51
 IL-CR-12 Mount Carroll 6.8 NNW 1.47
 IL-RI-13 Moline 0.7 NNE 1.44
 IL-WN-2 Roscoe 1.6 ESE 1.44
 IL-SP-6 Freeport 2.0 NW 1.43
 IL-RI-3 Moline 0.9 N 1.41
 IL-CK-192 Park Ridge 0.7 WNW 1.38
 IL-SP-7 Davis 0.5 N 1.38
 IL-LE-17 Dixon 1.5 SW 1.32
 IL-OG-4 Byron 3.2 N 1.23
 IL-CR-13 Shannon 0.2 S 1.22
 IL-MCH-66 Harvard 2.8 SSE 1.02
 IL-CK-36 Chicago 4.7 NE 1.01
 IL-SP-8 Winslow 4.3 ESE 0.77
 IL-LE-14 Amboy 0.5 ESE 0.17

Response to Damaging Rains in Illinois: Monthly Rainfall Totals for Over 500 Sites

IMG_0631-smallerRecently, Illinois officials have sought a federal disaster declaration from USDA in response to the heavy rainfall and damaging flooding across Illinois during May, June, and July of 2015. Update August 12: all but one county in Illinois is eligible for federal agricultural disaster loans due to excess rain according to news reports.  

In response I have used resources here at the Illinois State Water Survey to set up data files with monthly rainfall and departures from normal (when available) for over 500 sites in Illinois to aid in identifying locations with potential problems.

Data and products in this effort are from the NWS Cooperative Observer Network, CoCoRaHS Volunteer Network, the Midwestern Regional Climate Center, and Illinois State Water Survey.

2015 Versus 1993 in the Midwest

I have had several people say that all this summer feels like 1993. If you compare 2015 with 1993 in the maps below for June 1 – July 13, you can see that in 2015 the heavy rains were more concentrated in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana (shades of light blue and pink, indicating between 12.5 and 20 inches of rain). In fact, Illinois has been wetter in 2015 than in 1993 during the last 6 weeks.

The rains of 2015 have lead to moderate to major flooding on the Illinois River, as well as moderate flooding on the Mississippi River from Quincy southward according to the National Weather Service.

On the other hand, in 1993 the heaviest rains were shifted northward and westward (second map) and Missouri and Iowa took the brunt of the heavy rains. That northward and westward shift in the heavy rains resulted in major flooding impacts on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.  Continue reading

So Far, Fifth Wettest June on Record for Illinois

Even before today’s rain, the statewide average rainfall for June in Illinois is 7.11 inches. That makes it the 5th wettest June on record. And June is not over. Here are the top ten wettest June totals on record and where we stand:

  1. 1902 with 8.27 inches
  2. 2010 with 7.71 inches
  3. 1998 with 7.64 inches
  4. 2000 with 7.34 inches
  5. 2015 with 7.11 inches (as of 6/21/2015)
  6. 1928 with 6.93 inches
  7. 1993 with 6.85 inches
  8. 1924 with 6.80 inches
  9. 2014 with 6.77 inches
  10. 2011 with 6.69  inches

Notice anything unusual about that list? Five out of the 10 wettest June totals have occurred since 2000. Our statewide records go back to 1895.

map2
Click to enlarge.

Due to the heavy rains of June, we first saw flooding on the smaller rivers and streams in Illinois. Now the larger rivers are responding to the wet conditions. The NWS can keep you posted on the latest flooding issues at www.weather.gov

Wet June So Far in Illinois – More on the Way

Rainfall across Illinois and the central US has been substantial for June so far. This map represents the June rainfall through this morning. Large portions of the Missouri and Upper Mississippi River Basins have seen between 2 to 5 inches (yellows and oranges), while some spots in Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas have received 5 or more inches (red).

map1
Click to enlarge.

Zooming in on Illinois, the map below shows how far above average the wet areas have become. The areas in blue are 2 to 4 inches above average while the areas in green are 0.5 to 2 inches above average. Only small areas northwest of Chicago and south of Carbondale are below-average on rainfall.

map2
Click to enlarge.

Forecast

The potential rainfall amounts over the next week are significant. The 7-day precipitation forecast from the National Weather Service shows that central Illinois could see between 4 and 6 inches of rain, while the northern third of the state could see 2 to 4 inches. The southern third of Illinois could see 1 to 3 inches. Since much of this rain will come from thunderstorms, local amounts could be much higher or lower.

The reason for this rain is that a somewhat stationary front is sitting over Illinois and will remain so over the next week. Rain will continue to develop along and south of that front as warm, moist air flows northward.

p168i
Click to enlarge.

Flooding – Deadly Risk in Illinois with 28 Deaths in 19 Years

Right now the attention is on the widespread flooding in Texas and Oklahoma, with the number of deaths sitting at 21 and climbing. Illinois has been faced with deadly flooding in the past. An examination of the national storm database reveals that Illinois has had 28 flood-related deaths in the last 19 years*.

Here are the numbers by year in Illinois. Some years like 2000, 2008, 2009, and 2013 were especially bad with 4 to 5 deaths each. A few years had no deaths, including 2004-07, 2012, and 2014. While not part of this database, six deaths were reported in Illinois during the 1993 flood, according the ISWS report.

Flood-related deaths in Illinois from 1996 to 2014, based on data from the National Climatic Data Center.
Flood-related deaths in Illinois from 1996 to 2014, based on data from the National Climatic Data Center.

Continue reading

Illinois on List Twice for Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters of 2013

According to the National Climatic Data Center, Illinois was on the list twice for billion-dollar weather disasters in 2013. In both cases, some damages occurred elsewhere but Illinois took the brunt of the losses. These numbers are based on reports from government agencies, media reports, and insurance industry estimates.

2013-top-9-billion-dollar-events

The first was the flooding in the Chicago area in April 2013. I had posts on this event here, here, and here. This event produced an estimated $1 billion in damages and led to 4 deaths. They described it as:

A slow-moving storm system created rainfall totals of 5 to 10 inches across northern and central Illinois including the Chicago metro. This resulted in damage to many homes and businesses. There was also severe weather damage from wind and hail across Indiana and Missouri.

The second was the November 17, 2013, tornado outbreak that caused an estimated $1 billion in damages and led to 8 deaths. I wrote about it herehere, here, here, and here. They described it as:

Late-season outbreak of tornadoes and severe weather over the Ohio Valley (IL, IN, MO, OH, KY, MI) with 70 confirmed tornadoes. Most severe impacts occurred across Illinois and Indiana.