CHICAGO (CBS) — From the coldest February in 140 years to the strongest tornado in 25 years, the Chicago area has seen its fair share of historic weather events this year.
The year is closing out with the warmest December in more than 70 years in Chicago, according to the National Weather Service.
The average temperature of 39 so far this December was warmer than two-thirds of all previous Marches recorded in Chicago in more than 140 years, according to the National Weather Service. Historically, the average March temperature in Chicago is 37.9 degrees.
Two days this month the temperature reached 60 degrees or warmer at O’Hare, another eight days saw an official high of at least 50 degrees, and 11 more days the temperature reached at least 40. There have been only 13 days when the temperature dropped below freezing at any point.
It’s been a stark contrast from February, which tied a record for the coldest on record in Chicago, with an average temperature of 14.6 degrees, tying the record set in 1875. It was also tied for the 10th coldest month overall on record in Chicago.
By comparison to this month, February saw only four days with temperatures above freezing, and it never got warmer than the official high of 41 on Feb. 7. On 12 days in February, temperatures never got past the teens, including on Feb. 19, when the high was only 4 degrees, and the low was -8.
February also saw eight days when the low was subzero, tied for 5th most on record. The 23 days of a high below freezing was the third most on record.
It was also the third snowiest February on record in Chicago, with 26.8 inches, nearly triple the amount of normal February snowfall. It was only the sixth time on record there was at least one inch of snow on the ground every day of February.
February’s significant snow total was thanks in large part to snowstorm that dumped more than 19 inches on the city from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2. The 16.2 inches that fell on Feb. 1 alone was the fourth most for any single day on record in Chicago, and the most for any February day in the city. Overall, the 19.3 inches that fell during the storm ranked as the fifth largest snowstorm ever recorded in Chicago.
November also saw its own record for snow this year, when 11.2 inches of snow fell during a blizzard on Nov. 20 and Nov. 21, the second largest snowstorm on record in Chicago since 1884. Only an 1895 blizzard that dumped 12 inches on Chicago was bigger.
It wasn’t only the bookends of winter that brought historic weather to the Chicago area.
On June 10, a summer storm produced massive hail, the largest of which was more than 4 inches in diameter, with some hail stones measured at 4.75 inches near Minooka, the largest in Illinois since at least 1961.
Another summer storm brought the strongest tornado on record in 25 years to the Chicago area on June 22, when an EF-3 twister hit Coal City, bringing winds of up to 160 mph. It was the strongest tornado in the Chicago metro area since a deadly EF-5 tornado that devastated the town of Plainfield in 1990. Thankfully, the Coal City tornado did not claim any lives, and injuries were relatively minor, although it damaged or destroyed about 1,400 structures in Coal City.