After months of cold and snow, Crawford County slowly began to warm up and dry out in March.
According to figures from Official Weather Observer Ron Brock, Palestine, the average daytime high during March was more than 49.7 degrees, up from slightly more than 45 degrees last year.
The hottest temperature of the month was 70, reported March 21. This was up from a high of 64, reported March 10, 2013.
Most highs during March this year and last were in the 30s and 40s, but it did warm up to the 60s five times this year and four times last year.
The hottest March temperature on record is 84, set March 22, 1939.
The average March low was almost 28.7, compared to almost 28.6 a year ago. The coldest temperature of the month was 10, reported March 3. This was down from a low of 17, reported March 22, 2013. Most lows last month were below freezing, with the mercury dropping into the 20s 10 times and the teens seven times.
Last year, most lows were in the 20s and 30s, with temperatures dipping into the teens four times.
The March record low is 12 below zero, set March 6, 1960.
Only 1.27 inches of rain fell during the month. The heaviest rainfall was mixed with snow and dropped .38 inch on the county. There was more than .80 inch of snow overall, with the biggest snowfall of the month resulting in .50 inch of accumulation.
More than 2.16 inches of rain and 3.68 inches of snow dropped on the county during March 2013.
The heaviest rainfall resulted in .91 inch of precipitation March 17. Another .44 inch fell the next day. An early spring snowstorm covered the county with 3 inches of wet snow March 24. Another .18 inch fell on the 25th.
Between Dec. 1 and March 31, more than 37.68 inches of snow fell here.
The heaviest March snowfall on record occurred March 7, 1978. Ten inches of new powder fell atop an estimated 7 inches of old accumulation. Strong winds caused much drifting.
In February, the average high was almost 32.9. The warmest temperature of the month was 64, reported Feb. 20.
The average February low was 15.2. The coldest temperature of the month was 11 below zero Feb. 7. The high that day - and on the previous day when the low was 2 below - was 19.
Most high temperatures during February were below freezing. Most lows temperatures were colder than 20 degrees, with three nights in the single digits and five with temperatures below zero.
The record high for February is 76, reported Feb. 25, 2000. The coldest February temperature on record is 15 below zero, recorded on Feb. 2, 1951, and repeated on Feb. 4, 1998.
About 9.32 inches of snow fell on the county during February. Heaviest snowfall dropped 4 inches of powder here on the 4th. Another inch fell Feb. 5. The county was hit with a wintry mix Feb. 1 and freezing rain Feb. 17.
Three days later, the temperature hit 64 and .23 inch of rainfall was reported. The National Weather Service put the county under a tornado watch.
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.
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 1 to 2 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 1- to 5-inch range in the southern half of the state and 5 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 said.
"The problem is that we have had few rainfall events in March, which was unusual," he added. "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."
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a large area of "abnormally dry" conditions stretched from the western side of Illinois to Coles County as of March 25. Another area experiencing abnormally dry conditions was in the northwest corner of the state.
A few counties on the Missouri border were experiencing moderate drought.
The statewide temperature for February was 18.7 degrees. It was the seventh coldest February on record.
Snowfall for February was above average across the state. Totals ranged from 4 inches in far southern Illinois to 15 to 20 inches in the north-central part of the state. Statewide rainfall for February was 2.28 inches.
The statewide temperature for March 2013 was 34.1 degrees, making it the 11th coldest March on record.
Statewide precipitation last year was 2.85 inches. Snowfall was above average for the month thanks mostly to a large storm that passed through central Illinois on March 24 and 25 and some earlier events that passed through northern and western Illinois.