The record breaking late 1970s and early 1980s



Dear Tom,

The late 70s and early 80s winters were record breaking for Chicago. I recall a period from late December 1976 through February 1977 the temperature failed to get above freezing, and some of those days didn’t get above zero. Could you provide some stats for that time frame?

Rick, Antioch

Dear Rick,

In 1976, the temperature at Midway Airport (Chicago’s official weather observation at that time) dropped below the freezing mark (32 degrees) at 1 PM December 27 and remained below freezing for 1,053 consecutive hours before reaching 32 degrees at 10 AM on February 9, 1977. That streak translated into 43 days and 21 consecutive subfreezing hours. The highest temperatures observed during that prolonged cold spell were 31-degree highs on February 2, 3 and 4. The Midway thermometer also logged 17 days with subzero low temperatures during the 43-day streak. The coldest day was January 16, with a high/low of minus seven and minus 19. The streak finally ended with a high of 42 on February 9, 47 the following day, and a “balmy” 53 on February 11.

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