Trent Ford named new Illinois State Climatologist

Hydroclimatologist Dr. Trent Ford, currently an assistant professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, has been selected as the next Illinois State Climatologist, the authoritative source of weather and climate information and services for the state of Illinois. Ford will assume this role—based at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS), part of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) at the University of Illinois—on Aug. 15.

“Reliable, accessible information about weather and climate is essential to Illinoisans, so I’m delighted that we’ve found someone with Dr. Ford’s impressive knowledge and energy to step into the role,” said PRI executive director Mark Ryan.  

Ford has been an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Resources at SIUC since 2015. In addition to teaching courses on weather, climate, and society and hazardous weather, he has received funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to research heat wave predictability and to develop ways to use soil moisture data to improve drought monitoring.

 “Dr. Ford is well prepared to continue and expand the mix of outreach and communication and applied climate research that the State Climatologist Office is known for,” said Illinois State Water Survey director Kevin C OBrien.

A native of Roanoke, Illinois, Ford earned a bachelor’s in geography from Illinois State University before completing his master’s and PhD at Texas A&M University.

“I am excited to apply my knowledge and experience to best serve Illinoisans. Our Midwest climate is dynamic, as we can see from events just this spring and summer, and folks depend on accurate, timely information on and interpretation of the weather and climate. I’m excited to be a part of that, to serve this state and its citizens,” said Dr. Ford.

The role of Illinois State Climatologist was established by state statute to provide weather and climate data, maps, and information for Illinois farmers, government agencies and policymakers, and all citizens. Previous Illinois State Climatologists were Jim Angel (1996–2018), Wayne Wendland (1981–1996), and Stan Changnon (1972–1980).

For more information, visit the State Climatologist website at or contact the State Climatologist’s office at

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