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Rockford: Home for 150,115 People

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RockfordRockford is a mid-sized city located on both banks of the Rock River in far northern Illinois. Often referred to as "The Forest City", Rockford is the county seat of Winnebago County, Illinois, USA. As reported in the 2000 U.S. census, the city was home to 150,115 people, while in the 2008 estimate, it was said to have a population of 157,272.The metropolitan area has 339,178 residents as of the 2000 census. During the latter part of the 20th century Rockford was the second largest city in Illinois. The current mayor is Lawrence J. Morrissey, an independent elected to a second four year term in April as of 2009.

Rockford is located at 42°16′11″N 89°4′11″W / 42.26972°N 89.06972°W / 42.26972; -89.06972 (42.269770, -89.069754).[2] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 56.7 square miles (146.9 km²), of which, 56.0 square miles (145.1 km²) of it is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km²) of it is water. Neighboring communities that border Rockford, and are considered an integral part of the Rockford metro area, are Loves Park, Machesney Park, Belvidere, and the villages of Winnebago, Roscoe, Rockton, and Cherry Valley. The Rock River is the traditional center of the Rockford area and is its most recognizable natural feature.

Climate

Due to its location in the midwest, Rockford's climate contains four clearly defined seasons. Summers are usually very warm with the high temperature in July, the hottest month, being 83 °F (28 °C). The winter months can bring bitterly cold air masses from Canada. The average high temperature in January, the coldest month, is 27 °F (-3 °C). June is Rockford's wettest month while February is the driest. During a typical year, Rockford receives 36.3in (922 mm) of precipitation.

Rockford and surrounding areas are prone to violent thunderstorms during the months of March, April, May, and June. On April 21, 1967, the neighboring town of Belvidere was struck by a violent F4 tornado, in which twenty-four people were killed and hundreds more injured at Belvidere's High School. Other severe weather events, such as hail and strong winds are common in these storms. On July 5, 2003 at 04:03, microbursts caused major damage on both the east and west sides of Rockford. Approximately 70,000 people were without power, with many on the west side suffering in the heat without electricity for a week. It took months for the damage to be completely cleared, but because the storm struck so early in the morning there were no injuries or fatalities. However, these sometimes violent storms bring the majority of summer rainfall.

The city is also prone to severe snowstorms in winter, and blizzards are frequent winter occurrences. On January 13, 1979 over 9 inches (23 cm) of snow fell on Rockford in just a few hours during one of the strongest blizzards in the city's history. The city averages approximately 36 inches (92 cm) of snowfall in a normal winter, but greater amounts are common. The snowiest winter in the history of the city was the winter of 1978-1979, when 75 inches (1.91 m) of snow fell.

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