Illinoisans are no strangers to extreme weather in all its forms -- polar vortices, heat waves and severe storms are a part of all of our vocabularies. But state's annual average temperature is really quite temperate: 52.2 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the University of Illinois. But average temperatures in Illinois can vary greatly across the seasons. The average winter temperature is 29 degrees, while the average summer temperature in the state is 73.5 degrees. And overall, some of the warmest years on record in Illinois have been in the last 10 years.
The hottest temperature ever recorded in Illinois is 117 degrees in East St. Louis in July 1954 during a heat wave in the middle of an already-hot summer. Joe McFarland at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources recounted the day:
On the morning of July 14, 1954, residents of southern Illinois arose to face yet another scorching day above 100 degrees. The forecast for nearby St. Louis: 105. By noon, the forecast surpassed, many businesses closed early.
As pavement buckled and railroad lines warped in the heat, electricity demand spiked. The day progressed, and the temperature rose above 110 degrees. Then it was 115. By late afternoon, East St. Louis in southwest Illinois was nearly burned off the map when it reached 117 degrees -- the hottest and deadliest temperature ever recorded in Illinois.
"We were just cooked," recalls 83-year‐old Frances Sanner of downstate Union County Sanner and her husband were living in an apartment in St. Louis in the summer of 1954. Burned into her memory is how the crippling heat wave emptied the apartment building for days as tenants tried to escape the inferno.
Here are four of the hottest temperatures ever recorded at Illinois airports:
Champaign, July 20, 2001
Central Illinois, July 7, 2012
Bloomington, July 7, 2012
Chicago, July 13, 1995
Decatur, July 25, 2012
Rockford, July 7, 2012
Check out Reboot Illinois to see the five hottest temperatures recorded at airports in the state, plus the 10 warmest years on record in Illinois.
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