2021 Meteorological Spring Review

Weather Blog

Peoria, Ill. (WMBD) – While Summer won’t officially begin until the Summer Solstice at 10:31 pm on June 20th, the start of June marks the end of Meteorological Spring and the start of Meteorological Summer.

With wet conditions across west-central Illinois, worsening drought conditions across northeast Illinois, and a non-existent start to severe weather season locally, the past three months have been interesting for Illinois. Here’s a look back at what the past three months for Central Illinois.

Temperature Stats

30 Year Mean2021 MeanDeparture From Average
March41.0°45.8°+ 4.8°
April52.5°52.9°+ 0.4°
May63.1°61.2°– 1.9°
Spring Mean (Mar-May)52.2°53.3°+ 1.1°

It may come as a surprise to some that the past 3 months actually ended up warmer than average. Despite a relatively cool May which saw below average temperatures over much of the month, well above average temperatures through the month of March did more than enough to offset the cooler temperatures late in the season.

Source: Midwestern Regional Climate Center

When looking at the state wide departures from average, we see that much of downstate Illinois experienced near average temperatures while northern parts of the state were generally above average. It’s no coincidence that the warmest parts of the state were also some of the driest as you’ll see next.

Precipitation Stats

30 Year Average2021 TotalsDeparture From Average
March2.69″3.17″+ 0.48″
April3.99″4.79″+ 0.80″
May4.69″6.35″+ 1.66″
Spring Mean (Mar-May)11.37″14.31″+ 2.94″

Peoria recorded above average precipitation over each of the last three months with more than six inches of rain falling in the month of May making it the 17th wettest May on record.

There’s no question that the past 3 months have been wet for much of Central Illinois, especially for those areas along and south of I-74. It’s been a different story for northern parts of the state where Chicago (3.75″) and Rockford (5.51″) experienced the 3rd and 7th driest spring on record respectively.

Quiet Start to Severe Weather Season

If you were to ask me at the beginning of March how our upcoming severe weather season would turn out…this wasn’t it. Historically coming out of La Niña winters meant that there would be a more active severe weather season for the south and parts of the Midwest. While that was true for much of the southeast, that hasn’t been the case for Central Illinois.

It has been an unusually quiet thunderstorm season for Central Illinois…literally! There have only been 6 days in 2021 where Peoria has reported thunderstorms. Peoria averages nearly 13 thunderstorm days by the end of Meteorological Spring, with 6 of those 13 days coming in the month of May. On average, Peoria experiences 37.3 thunderstorm days a year.

Looking at all the Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado Warnings issued across the state between March 1st and May 31st, it’s clear where the more active severe weather has been so far…along and south of I-72. With the exception of a few stray warnings on the southern fringe of our viewing area, we’ve only had one warning issued for the WMBD/WYZZ market area and that was in Mason County.

Peoria County has not had a single Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado Warning so far this year. You have to go all the way back to 1995 before you find a year where a Severe Thunderstorm Warning wasn’t issued for Peoria County through June 2nd. As a comparison, Peoria County already had been under eight Severe Thunderstorm Warnings and two Tornado Warnings by this time last year.

A summary of storm reports from the Storm Prediction Center shows that the state of Illinois has a total of 87 preliminary storm reports so far in 2021. With the exception of some scattered damaging wind reports, most of the storm reports are in downstate Illinois.

Storm Report Summary through May 31st. Source: Storm Prediction Center

It’s worth noting that we did have one confirmed tornado in Mason County on March 23rd. The EF-0 tornado was a brief spin-up that was embedded within a squall line and went unwarned. You can read more on this particular event here.

It’s important to remember that while severe weather season peaks in early June, there’s still a lot of severe weather season left. Last year we had a tornadoes in Tazewell and McLean/Livingston Counties in July and a destructing Derecho bring 70-100 mph winds and tornadoes areas north of I-74 on August 10th.

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