The Reluctant Townie: Looking back on the summer of '17

A brief timeline of events:

Aug. 26: My autumn-loving wife coerces my daughter into drawing a "Happy Fall" sign on a decorative chalkboard to be featured prominently in the living room.

There is heated debate about the appropriateness of such a display and the ethics of radicalizing my elder daughter into supporting her act of seasonal treason.

Speaker at UI's upcoming climate conference laments U.S. policy reversals

Like other climate scientists, John Holdren braced for major change when President Donald Trump was inaugurated in January.

But Holdren, President Barack Obama's chief science and technology adviser, didn't expect it to happen so fast.

As Tampa cleans up, a return to normalcy — and football

TAMPA, Fla. — Brian Siegrist looked out the windows of the University of South Florida's Lee Roy Selmon Athletics Center on Tuesday morning to see people walking out of the basketball arena and being loaded into shuttles.

Top of the Morning, Sept. 11, 2017

Having grown up in the St. Louis suburbs, I'm more used to dealing with tornadoes than hurricanes — but having spent many a vacation in Florida, the latter seem to have played more significant roles in my life.

Marcus Jackson/About Town: Lifelong storm tracker in his element

URBANA — After teaching an Introduction to Meteorology class on Wednesday morning — where he covered the developing story of Hurricane Irma — Jeff Frame retreated to his second-floor office in the Natural History Building on the University of Illinois campus, plopped down in front of two monitors and continued following the path of the storm.

Hurricane Harvey prompts gas prices' highest jump since Katrina

CHAMPAIGN — Local gas prices could remain higher for some time, with Hurricane Harvey knocking some refineries offline and Hurricane Irma potentially reaching Florida early next week.

When Harvey made landfall in Texas on Aug. 25, Champaign gas prices were at $2.18 a gallon, according to price tracking service GasBuddy.

Updated: severe thunderstorm watch expires

The severe thunderstorm watch for our area has been allowed to expire.


A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for Moultrie, northern Shelby, southwestern Piatt and southeastern Macon counties until 6 p.m.


Hoopeston group members riding to Houston-area animal shelter's rescue

HOOPESTON — Kathleen Orcutt and Deb Hefner are excited but also preparing emotionally to leave Saturday for Texas, where they will rescue dogs and cats from a shelter that's overwhelmed.

Champaign man learned extent of Texas relatives' plight from CNN

Know someone who has helped? Email us at

Having spent last weekend in Las Vegas for the Mayweather-McGregor fight, Champaign's Thomas Holmes wasn't fully aware of just how much devastation Hurricane Harvey left behind on its way through Houston.

Dense fog advisory

Most of East Central Illinois is under a Dense Fog Advisory until Wednesday at 9 a.m.

The National Weather Service says Champaign, DeWitt, Douglas, Ford, Iroquois, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, and Vermilion counties are all under the advisory.