Past El Niños Offer Clues To What’s In Store For Chicago Area This Winter

(CBS) — This year’s El Niños continues to gain strength.

This would be one of the five strongest El Niños since 1950, so, Mary Kay Kleist decided to take a look back to see what previous El Nino winters could tell us about winter in Chicago this year.

The 1982-83 El Niño wasn’t as strong as this year’s is predicted to be, but there were some notable weather events that winter.

December was soggy rather than snowy with more than eight and a half inches of rain. A Christmas Eve thunderstorm dropped almost two inches of rain.

It was also mild. Six days were 20 degrees above normal and two other days were 30 degrees above average.

December 2 tied a record for warmth when it hit 71 degrees and on Christmas Day the temperature reached another record high 64.

Warmer Pacific water along the equator causes the development of El Niño. Compared to the most recent El Niño in 1997, the area of warm water is a lot larger.

In 1997 December temps were almost four degrees above normal and January was almost six degrees warmer. We even say four 50 degree days in a row right after New Year’s.

February almost set a record for warmth: 11 degrees above average.

It rained more in the winter of 97-98, leading to mosquito larva being found in February.

Wondering about snow? Snowfall was near normal that winter about 30 inches, but most of it fell during one storm in January.

The development of this year’s El Niño also depends on trade winds continuing to collapse. If that happens, El Nino will keep getting stronger.

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