Chicago deep freeze: cold, colder, coldest

Chicago just iced it: 26 days of frigid, below-zero temperatures – and counting. With another snowstorm due to hit late Tuesday, Chicago is chasing the record for heaviest snowfall, too.

Jeff Haynes/Reuters/File
Commuters brave frigid weather while walking the streets of Chicago earlier this year. The windy city hit its first subzero temperatures in November and, this week, Chicago broke its record for the most subzero days ever reported here: 26.

Chicago broke a history record, although people there aren’t rounding a victory lap.

Winter temperatures in the city reached zero degrees F. or below the most number of days since recordkeeping began.

“It’s not just perception that it’s felt particularly brutal this year. The numbers say it,” National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Castro told the Chicago Tribune Tuesday.

The unusually brittle winter brought subzero temperatures to Chicago early, starting in November, where they continued periodically through this week, when temperatures fell to minus-3 degrees at O’Hare International Airport, totaling 26 days when temperatures hit zero or lower. To find a winter as cold, weather trackers had to go back to 1884-85, just a decade after the Great Chicago Fire. That winter had 25 days below zero and not right at zero.

In fact, only six recorded Chicago winters have had temperatures fall below zero: 1884-85, 1935-36, 1962-63, 1981-82, 1874-75, and 1978-79.

Overall, this is the third-coldest winter on record in Chicago, with an average temperature of 18.8 degrees.

Are warming up, at least? Not yet.

Mr. Castro told the Tribune that temperatures will remain cold, with snow continuing to fall at least through mid-March, according to the National Weather Service. With another snowstorm aiming to hit Chicago late Tuesday, the city will likely have its second-snowiest winter since 1884. To date, the city has endured 73.4 inches of the white stuff, which is more than 43 inches above normal.

The deep freeze is also setting records on the Great Lakes. Ice coverage on the Great Lakes reached 90.5 percent, just shy of the 1979 record when ice covered 94.7 percent of the lakes, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich. Last month, when ice covered 88 percent of the surface, it was the greatest ice coverage the lakes had experienced in 20 years.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Chicago deep freeze: cold, colder, coldest
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today