Chicago: Lowest Temperature Ever Recorded

Chicago’s coldest day on record — When it is so cold like today, we always get asked — “What is the coldest temperature ever recorded in Chicago?”  So we did our homework and are giving out free weather information here at Free Things to Do in Chicago…..The coldest temperature ever recorded in Chicago was -27°F (-33°C) on January 20, 1985, with a wind chill of -83°F (-64°C). On December 24, 1983, the high temperature at Chicago reached only -11°F (-23°C).-


Chicago Weather in Winter

As most of us know , winters in Chicago proves variable and fickle, but even in mild winters one will experience bouts of cold weather. Interestingly, the average Chicago winter produces 38.0 inches (94 cm) of snow. This is just an average; Chicago winters have produced between 9.8 and 89.7 inches (25 cm and 221 cm) of snow. Snow tends to fall in light accumulations of around 2 inches (5 cm), but about once every three years Chicago experiences a storm that can produce 10 or more inches (25 cm to 35 cm) of snow over a 1-3 day period. Unlike across Lake Michigan in western Michigan or in northern Indiana, Chicago rarely gets lake-effect snow because prevailing westerlies that cross the region pick up moisture from Lake Michigan after passing Chicago. Rare northeasterly winds during the winter may deposit the sort of snowfall that one associates with nearby snowbelt cities such as Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kalamazoo, Michigan, and South Bend, Indiana with the more usual westerly winds. Temperatures can vary wildly within the span of one week, but extended periods of temperatures below 32°F (0°C) are not uncommon in January and February. The temperature in January averages about 29°F (-2°C) in the afternoon, and 14°F (-10°C) at night. Temperatures can be expected to drop below 0°F (-18°C) on 15 days throughout the winter season. Although not common, temperatures in Chicago even in the middle of winter can surpass 50°F (10°C).


Although Chicago is known as the Windy City, it is not significantly breezier than other American cities. Average wind speeds range from 8 mph (13 km/h) in late summer to 12 mph (19 km/h) in spring months. Until recently, the “windy city” moniker was believed to be a derisive reference to Chicago’s politicians, coined in a New York newspaper editorial in 1890. New research by OED consultant Barry Popik has shown that the term actually appeared in print several years before the New York editorial. The phrase may have been created by Chicago tourism boosters attempting to promote the city, cooled by breezes off Lake Michigan, as an ideal summer destination.


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