CHARLESTON -- Approximately 6.5 inches of snow fell on the Charleston area during the recent weekend storm, but the total could have been even more.
Cameron Craig, climatologist with the Eastern Illinois University weather center, said the low pressure system produced a lot of snow because it was slow moving. He said 6.5 inches of snow fell between midnight Friday and early Sunday morning in the Charleston area.
However, Craig said this low pressure system moved more sharply northeast than forecasted after it passed through the St. Louis area. He said the winter storm ended up bringing more snow to Jacksonville, Decatur and Pana, the latter of which received 8.8 inches of snowfall, than it did to the Charleston and Mattoon area.
"We kind of lucked out," Craig said.
In addition, Craig said the Charleston and Mattoon area was fortunate that the lull in the snowfall Saturday afternoon was not filled by rainy weather like what occurred elsewhere in the region. He said the rainfall could have frozen later in the day and created treacherous travel conditions on area roads.
"It was nice to have that break from any precipitation Saturday afternoon," Craig said.
Lt. Rick Giordano of the Charleston Police Department said he had felt sure that freezing conditions overnight Saturday would leave local roads in bad shape by Sunday. Giordano said he was pleasantly surprised that his prediction was not correct.
Giordano said Charleston police officers responded to a few vehicles that slid off the roads on Saturday, but they did not receive any reports of any crashes all day Saturday and as of late afternoon Sunday.
Craig said the 30 year average for snowfall in the Charleston area is 19 inches, but only about 9 inches has fallen so far this winter. He said this snowfall will put some moisture in the ground for farmers.
However, Craig said the winter weather so far has only been cold enough to freeze the soil about 2 inches deep for a short time period in December. He said the soil needs to be frozen 10-13 inches deep for at least a month to help kill off insect pests.
"We can expect the pest population to be explosive this year," Craig said, adding that this could change if there is an extended cold snap in the coming weeks.