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Chicago set new cold weather records

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Rockford and Illinois broke all-time record temperatures

AP Photo/Teresa Crawford

Life-threatening weather with extreme windchill and subzero temperatures had the weather service on high alert for record-breaking, historic numbers at the end of January.

On Thursday night, Chicago had a subzero temperatures for 52 straight hours. The frigid marathon beat out the last subzero streak in 2014 by 14 hours—the National Weather Service Chicago estimates 2019 is the fourth longest streak ever.

No all-time records were broken for Chicago but the low temperature of minus 23 was close to clipping the record of minus 27 degrees on January 20, 1985. However, daily records for the city were shattered, according to the National Weather Service Chicago.

On Wednesday, the record for lowest maximum temperature was broken with minus 10, previously it was 3 degrees in 2004. The day’s record for lowest minimum temperature was also broken at 23 degrees below zero, before it had been minus 15 in 1966.

Thursday’s weather also set a new record for the lowest minimum temperature with minus 21 degrees. Previous records were minus 12 in 1899 and 1985.

If you think that’s bad, the record for windchill is far worse: 82 below zero on Christmas Eve 1983. Chicago’s windchill dipped to minus 52 degrees on Wednesday.

Chicago’s current streak of temperatures below zero comes to an end with 52 straight hours below zero. Unofficially the 4th longest. #chiberia2019 15 hours longer than #chiberia in 2014.

The polar vortex weather event did usher in two new all-time records in Rockford, Illinois and Mt. Carroll, Illinois. Rockford’s temperatures on Thursday reached minus 31 degrees, sinking below its previous record of minus 27 on January 10, 1982.

Mt. Carroll reach 38 degrees below zero on Thursday, and if deemed accurate by a committee, will set a new all-time record for the state of Illinois. Previously, the lowest temperature ever recorded in the state was minus 36 at Congerville on January 5, 1999.

Snowfall records for Chicago were set earlier in the week too. Between January 17th to the 29th, snow fell everyday accumulating about 14.7 inches in depth. That’s only happened five other times, according to the weather service. The last time Chicago had 13 days of consecutive snowfall was the winter of 1978 to 1979 where 23.5 inches fell. To break an all-time record, snow would have to fall consecutively for more 1960’s 18 days.

This week’s cold weather in Chicago will fluctuate with nearly 100 degree difference—Wednesday saw windchill values at minus 50 degrees while Sunday will reach a high near 40 degrees. The extreme cold front is part of the a larger polar vortex event affecting the country.