As temps stay lower, this winter climbs higher in the record book

CHAMPAIGN — With a minus 3 degree reading Monday morning, the winter of 2013-14 has moved up in the record books.

Two more anticipated subzero readings — the National Weather Service predicted an overnight low of minus 12 degrees Monday night and minus 2 Tuesday night — would put this winter alone in 12th place for most days with subzero temperatures.

Through Monday, Champaign-Urbana had had 13 subzero lows this winter — one in December, nine in January and three in February.

Even with more overnight subzero readings Tuesday morning and night, though, it's a long way to the record for most below zero readings in one winter: 22 during the winter of 1917-18.

What makes the surplus of subzero readings this winter more unusual is that Champaign-Urbana had gone from Feb. 10, 2011 to Dec. 12, 2013 — 1,036 days — without a subzero reading. That was close to the local record for consecutive days above zero: 1,071 days from Jan. 24, 1937, to Dec. 30, 1939, according to the Illinois State Water Survey.

Meanwhile, the weather service — which keeps track of nights at or below zero — says that Willard Airport has had 16 such nights so far this winter. Galesburg has had 24 such nights, Normal has had 20 and the Bloomington-Normal Airport has reported 19.

Danville, according to the weather service, has had nine nights at or below zero this winter. Decatur has had eight.

The bitter cold might be coming to an end, according to the weather service. Lows will be no lower than 12 degrees for the rest of the week.

"Most of forecast area will see high temperatures at or above freezing by Thursday, and after a minor cool down for Friday and Saturday, high temperatures may approach 'normal' to start the next work week," the weather service office in Lincoln stated Monday.

Normal highs for the week Feb. 16 to 22 in Champaign-Urbana range from 38 to 40 degrees. The Climate Prediction Center has forecast a better chance of above average temperatures moving from the west into Illinois in the 8- to 14-day forecast that covers the period Feb. 17-23.

Weather history lesson

A look at the top 16 winter seasons for subzero readings in Champaign-Urbana history, dating to 1898:

RANKING SUBZERO DAYS WINTER(S)
1 22 1917-18
2 (three tied) 20 1901-02, 1935-36, 1978-79
5 (three tied) 19 1892-93, 1894-95, 1903-04
8 18 1962-63
9 (two tied) 17 1904-05, 1976-77
11 16  1911-12
12 14 1981-82
13 (four tied)  13 1898-99, 1909-10, 1983-84, 2013-14*

*Current winter predicted to move up list in the next few days. Source: Illinois State Water Survey

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