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.
No all time records were reached officially for Chicago. We had a "high" of -10 at 12:01am Wednesday, so we missed the -11 all time record by 1 degree & a few minutes. The coldest low was -23, which is 4 short of the all-time record. Daily records were shattered in many cases.— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) January 31, 2019
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.
View outside NWS Chicago (Romeoville) on last day of the Arctic blast. Noon temp here was -7°, with -9° at #Chicago (ORD) & -12° at #Rockford. Feel free to tweet us any photos you've taken during this extreme cold stretch, inc. location & permission for future use. #ilwx #inwx pic.twitter.com/hWNEKKPuTj— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) January 31, 2019