By KANDACE MCCOY
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois received major precipitation during the month of March, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is reporting.
Though the northern regions received more snow during the month, Southern Illinois received heavy rain that resulted in significant flooding. Rainfall totals south of Interstate 70 generally exceeded 6 inches in March with amounts over 10 inches reported, according to state climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey.
Nearly 8 inches of rain fell in the Mt. Vernon area within a 24-hour period the week of March 17, which resulted in numerous road closings and reports of flooding, as the Big Muddy River and its tributaries continued to rise and caused some problems.
Also that week, two people, 38-year-old Stephen Healy of McLeansboro and 20-year-old Shannon Allen of Mt. Vernon, drowned after being swept away in floodwaters on Hall Lane near Waltonville. By the end of that week, Gov. Rod Blagojevich declared 19 counties in Southern Illinois, including Jefferson County, as state disaster areas.
The two highest observed monthly totals for March came from Fairfield with 11.91 inches or rain and Anna with 15.51 inches, states information from IDNR. Regional rainfall totals were reported as “impressive.”
Statewide precipitation in March was 4.48 inches, 1.27 inches above normal. Statewide temperatures averaged at 38.4 degrees, which is 2.7 degrees below normal.
For the next two weeks, the National Weather Service suggests the forecast and outlook will see wetter than normal conditions, especially in Southern Illinois. As a result, the NWS is calling for ongoing localized river flooding through at least mid-April across the state.
“This forecast indicates that we will have continued flooding problems in Southern Illinois and soon planting days will become a concern,” Angel said.
By KANDACE MCCOY
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