Altitude: Most of the State of Illinois is located near sea level. This means we are free of the high elevations found in mountainous regions. The Midwest is also partially divided. While the western portion of the Midwest is flat, the eastern portion is more mountainous.
Latitude: Is the distance we are from the equator either north or south. Since the equator receives direct sunlight, the further we are from the equator, the cooler we'll be.
Air Masses: The main cause of crazy weather in the Midwest are air masses, since they're in constant battle with each other. Usually we can tell which air mass is winning this battle by the type of weather we're experiencing. The US is mainly affected by four different air masses; cP (Continental Polar), mP (Maritime Polar), cT (Continental Tropical) and mT (Maritime Tropical). Sometimes in the middle of Winter we may encounter the cA (Continental Arctic) air mass.
The Oceans: The oceans play a vital roll in regulating the Earth's climate. On a local scale, the State of Illinois does not have a direct influence since we are hundreds of miles away from the closest ocean. If we were near an ocean, it would moderate our temperatures and prevent weather extremes. This is why Illinois is so cold in the Winter and so hot in the Summer.
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