Top of the morning, June 13, 2016

Really hot days like these take me back to the mostly idyllic days of my youth. The air had a summer smell to it, a sound even — with crickets and mourning doves and cardinals and robins chattering — and we had months ahead with no school.

From time to time, as the mercury would climb — in my memory, it was mostly on Sunday afternoons — Dad would tell us five magic words:

Heating up

The last time C-U thermometers hit 97 in June, Obama-Romney was the race making headlines. For the first time since 2012, that's how hot meteorologists predict it will get Saturday — sandwiched between days of 93. Here's more on the sweltering stretch ahead:

Severe thunderstorm warnings

The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for part of East Central Illinois.

Central DeWitt and Northern Piatt are under the advisory until 8:15 a.m, while Southwestern Champaign, Northwestern Douglas, Northeastern Macon and Southern Piatt counties are under a severe thunderstorm warning until 8:30 a.m.

Frost advisory issued for Sunday

A frost advisory has been issued for East Central Illinois on Sunday. More from the National Weather Service:

Updated: severe thunderstorm warnings expire for area counties

New 8:07 p.m. Wednesday:

The severe thunderstorm watches and warnings have expired. Ameren reports that nearly all customers in East Central have had their power restored.

New 5:24 p.m. Wednsday:

Flood warning issued for Sangamon River at Monticello

A flood warning has been issued for the Sangamon River at Monticello from Wednesday afternoon until late Friday night.

The river's water level is expected to hit 13.5 feet by Thursday afternoon, which will mean flooding of nearby farm fields and other low-lying areas.  The water is expected to go down by Friday night.

Hazardous weather outlook issued for part of area

The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for portions of central Illinois and East Central Illinois:

Volunteers needed to keep weather eye out

TILTON — All told, the National Weather Service has about 4,000 sets of watchful eyes to turn to anytime there's a major event brewing in central Illinois.

But you can never have enough storm spotters, says Rick Harper, severe weather coordinator for the Vermilion County Emergency Management Agency.

20 years after tornado, former Urbana cops recall a shift for the ages

Jim Page and Mike Metzler can tell you exactly what they were doing 20 years ago Tuesday.

How do they remember so clearly?

Because on the evening of April 19, 1996, all hell broke loose.

Both worked for the Urbana police department. Page had been at a training session all day that Friday. Metzler's day had started in the wee hours with an unscheduled work task.

Top of the morning, April 18, 2016

These days, SCOTT KOENEMAN is assistant dean of libraries for advancement at the University of Illinois.

On Friday evening, April 19, 1996, Koeneman was city editor at The News-Gazette, a position he'd held about a year at that point. It was his job to assign and supervise reporters and coordinate the paper's news report.