CHAMPAIGN — Weather watchers in Chicago are looking at a potential record this month for latest measurable snowfall.
But we have a longer wait in Champaign-Urbana — assuming no significant snowfall results from tonight's predicted flurries.
So far this season, Chicago has had plenty of flurries but nothing more than a trace of snow. The record for latest measurable snow in the Windy City is Dec. 16, 1965.
In Champaign-Urbana — where nothing more than occasional traces have been recorded this season — the record for the latest measurable snowfall is the winter of 1912-13 when the first snowfall didn't occur until Jan. 4, 1913. An inch was recorded that day, and only 19 inches fell the entire winter.
There does seem to be some correlation between late snowfall starts and meager wintertime totals, said state climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey.
"In more recent times," Angel said, "we had a late start in the 1994-1995 winter when the first measurable snow was on New Year's Eve (0.6 inch). We ended up with only 7.8 inches that year."
That was the third-lowest seasonal snowfall total in local weather history.
Only twice since 2000 has Champaign-Urbana gone this late without a measurable snowfall. In 2009, the first snowfall came on Dec. 19. In 2001, it arrived on Dec. 14.
"The reverse is also true," he said, "our snowiest winters tend to be the ones that start early with sizeable snowfall in early December. Last year was a good example of this when we got 7.7 inches on Dec. 4. We ended up at 41 inches for the winter, which is well above our normal 23.2 inches."
By this time last year, Champaign-Urbana had already had 8.9 inches of snow. And by Dec. 9, the first subzero reading of the year was recorded.
Champaign-Urbana's first measurable snowfall could be more than a week away, according to the National Weather Service. The greatest chance of snow over the next seven days is a 50 percent chance of flurries tonight.