Sledding, snowman-building and other outdoor activities were paused in the Chicago area this winter because a key ingredient was missing — snow.
Eight of the coldest temperatures and seven of the largest snowfalls ever recorded here happened in January.
With a La Nina climate system in effect, though, Chicago has been warmer than average — which means snow has been scarce.
“This already is the second-warmest January on the books here — at least so far it is,” WGN-TV chief meteorologist Tom Skilling told the Tribune last week. “You have to go back to 1850 to find a Jan. 1-17 period that’s warmer than what we’ve seen this year. We’re running 10 degrees above normal, 14 degrees warmer than the same period a year ago.”
[ Vintage Chicago Tribune: WGN-TV’s Tom Skilling recalls the city’s coldest and snowiest January days ]
Skilling’s models suggested a weather pattern change was in the works and that forecast has held up.
A 29-day streak of above-normal temperatures ended and more than 6 inches of snow had been recorded through Thursday at O’Hare International Airport, the city’s official recording site. And, it will continue to snow during the weekend.
So, could we make up for the 8-inch deficit in snow we are currently experiencing? Stay tuned — we will be tracking it.
[ Chicago’s mild winter is coming to an end. And now events like ice castles and ski jumping are back. ]
In Chicago, snow seasons are tracked from July through the following June. The area normally can expect 38.4 inches, according to the National Weather Service. The most snow Chicago has ever received in one season is 89.7 inches during 1978-79. The least — 9.8 inches — occurred in 1920-21.
Here’s a look back at how our current snowfall compares with previous seasons.
Data is updated as of Jan. 26, 2023.