Chicago's All Wet

2008 saw many communities set precipitation records.

Thursday, Jan 1, 2009  |  Updated 1:45 PM CDT
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Randy

Chicago and may cities across Illinois set precipitation records in 2008.

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It may have been the rain. Or snow. Or sleet. Whatever it was, we set a record in Illinois for 2008 being one of the wettest years ever. 

In fact, the 50.86 inches of precipitation that fell in Chicago was more than in any year since records started being kept in 1871 and more than an inch more than the previous record set in 1983, National Weather Service meteorologist Amy Seeley said Thursday.
  
Seeley said the total includes rain and the liquid equivalent of snow.
  
And in central Illinois, 2008 was the wettest year on record in six communities and the second wettest in four more, according to the weather service.
  
While it varies from community to community when records were kept, some date back well over 100 years, including in Tuscola, where the 55.13 inches was more than any year since 1893. And in Lincoln, the 56.25 inches was not only the highest total since 1905, but broke the previous record that was set in 1927 by more than five inches.
  
In suburban Chicago the snow fell so fast and long that in at least one community, Mundelein, the police department abandoned their squad cars, choosing instead to respond to calls in SUVs and even on snowmobiles.
  
That was followed by a rainy season made wetter as the remnants of Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Gustav.
  
For example, remnants of Ike dumped more than 10 inches of rain in Cook County one weekend in September, causing rivers to rise, flooding streets and overwhelming sewer systems.
  
And then, as everyone in Illinois knows -- particularly those trying to drive or fly anywhere -- winter started early with storms like the one in mid-December that deposited as much as 10 inches of snow in the northern end of the state.
  
"We started busy and we ended busy and we had a couple of busies in between," said Heather Stanley, a weather service meteorologist in Lincoln. "It all, pardon the pun, snowballs."
  
That was certainly true in Chicago. Not only was the 21.8 inches of snow that fell in February enough to make it the fifth snowiest February on record, but the 21.9 inches that fell in December was enough to make it the seventh snowiest December on record.
  
Chicago's total of 64.9 inches of snow for the calendar year made 2008 the fourth snowiest on record, according to the National Weather Service.

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