February in Illinois was particularly mild, ending a winter season that was 2 to 6 degrees above normal, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois' Illinois State Water Survey. February also brought wetter weather to the state.
February is typically the second coldest month statewide after January. This year, however, the February average temperatures ranged from the high 20s in northern Illinois to the mid-40s in southern Illinois, between 2 and 8 degrees above normal.
Several weather stations saw daily high temperatures in the 70s last month, including 74 degrees in Williamson County and 70 in Coles County. Meanwhile, a brief period of extreme cold at the start of the month pushed stations in northern Illinois well below zero, including nighttime lows of -14 degrees in Kane County and -13 degrees in Jo Daviess County.
The preliminary statewide average February temperature was 35.1 degrees, 4.0 degrees above the 1991--2020 average.
The 2022--2023 winter average temperatures ranged from the high 20s in northern Illinois to the low 40s in southern Illinois, between 2 and 6 degrees above normal. The preliminary statewide average winter temperature was 33.1 degrees, 4.9 degrees above the 1991--2020 normal and tied with the 2019--2020 season for the ninth warmest on record.
In Illinois, the average winter temperature has increased by about 0.20 degrees per decade since 1895, and the average winter temperature over the last 30 seasons is about 2 degrees warmer than the 20th century average.
February is also one of the driest months of the year. However, this year's statewide average total February precipitation was 3.03 inches, 0.92 inches above the 1991--2020 average. Total February precipitation ranged from around 2 inches in south-central Illinois to over 4 inches in southern Illinois.
Last month was the second wettest February on record in Rockford, third wettest on record in Freeport, fourth wettest in Quincy, the seventh wettest in Bloomington, and the eighth wettest on record in Chicago and Moline.
Only the areas north of Interstate 72 saw any measurable snowfall last month, with totals ranging from less than half an inch from Adams County to Iroquois County up to 12 inches in far northwest Illinois. All but the northwest tip of the state saw below normal snowfall, 2 to 8 inches less than expected.
Our wet winter eradicated all drought across the state. Drought recovery in southern Illinois was particularly remarkable given that each of the southern seven counties were in severe or extreme drought on Dec. 1.
The Climate Prediction Center temperature outlooks lean toward colder than normal across most of the state, suggesting that our unseasonably mild weather may be on hiatus for March. Precipitation outlooks for March are leaning to likely wetter than normal, possibly continuing our wet streak from January and February.