280 snowless days unusual, but no record
CHAMPAIGN — Being snowless this far into December is unusual in East Central Illinois, but not unheard of.
Still, the weather forecast for the next two weeks doesn't give snow-lovers much to cheer about. That means that Champaign-Urbana will build on its current streak of 280 days without a measurable snow.
The local record for days without snow is 307, set from Jan. 28, 1987 to Nov. 30, 1987.
There's little likelihood of snow for the next week to 10 days, and maybe longer, says the National Weather Service.
And that is unusual. The longest Champaign-Urbana went into a winter without a measurable snow was Jan. 4, 1913, according to state climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey.
December typically is the second-snowiest month of the year, behind January.
"We have several storm systems that will be affecting the area, starting next Friday night and Saturday, but that one will go far to the north so it will bring moisture and warmth, but the precipitation when it gets to our area will be rain," said Dan Smith, a meteorologist with the weather service office in Lincoln. "There's another system coming up maybe next Tuesday or Wednesday at the earliest and there's not a lot of cold air associated with that so it looks like that will be rain.
"So the weather systems are coming up out of the southwest like that they normally do in the wintertime, but the cold air source has been pretty much cut off. The only exception is when these cold systems get off to our northeast and the precip ends and it brings in a little bit colder air. There really isn't any sign of a change in this pattern where we'll actually get some cold air to stick around."
That could doom chances for a white Christmas, which already has a low probability — just a 31 percent chance in Champaign-Urbana, based on 1981-2010 data from the Illinois State Water Survey.
"We just don't have any real sharp cold air source coming down for a long time here. The pattern looks like it isn't going to change for awhile," said Smith. "It's pretty far out to predict Christmas. But for now the pattern looks like it's staying the same, a fairly active storm track throughout the western U.S. and that goes through the southern Rockies and comes out and it usually goes to the northeast and it brings rain for us."
The average date for the first measurable snowfall of the year in Champaign-Urbana is Nov. 29, said Angel.
Last year's first measurable snowfall didn't come until Dec. 9, and it was just three-tenths of an inch. Champaign-Urbana ended up last December with 2.2 inches of snow, exactly one-third of a normal December's average.
Last winter ranked No. 9 in Champaign-Urbana weather history for the least amount of snowfall. There was just 10.9 inches of snowfall.