I remember a winter in the late 1980s that produced only about 40 inches of snow, but most of it came in three of four big storms. Did any winters during that period match my memory?
Gary Ryan, Bartlett
You are remembering the winter of 1987-88 that brought the city 42.6 inches of snow for the entire season, yet produced three major snowstorms that accounted for more than 60 percent of the total seasonal snowfall. The first storm occurred on December 14-15, delivering 9.1 inches of snow. Just two weeks later, a second storm brought 8.0 inches on December 28. January snowfall was lackluster with just 5.4 inches for the month, much of it falling in a series of light snows from January 22-26. February hosted the season’s third major snowstorm, a 9.4 inch affair spanning February 9-11.
By Meteorologist Paul Merzlock
Theoretically, extensive Great lakes ice cover, particularly this late in the season, may influence Springtime temperatures in Chicago. Prolonged late-season ice melt delays the warming of lake water. However, a study of lake ice coverage, including data from 1973 to present, suggests there is little or no correlation between the maximum amount of lake ice and average Spring temps. This is simply due to the surface area of the Great lakes being very small compared to large-scale air flow across the continent. The brutal winter of 1976-77 produced 94% ice coverage, but the following Spring turned out to be the warmest on record at the time. Persistent SW flow across the U.S. quickly melted the ice. Temps this Spring are forecast to be below normal, mainly due to a recurring northwesterly jet stream.
Which day of the year in Chicago has the greatest range between its record high and record low?
— Mark Gloudeman, Yorkville
The date is Jan. 20 with a remarkable temperature span of 90 degrees between its record low of 27 degrees below zero in 1985 and 63-degree record high in 1906.
A close runner-up is Dec. 24 with a range of 89 degrees between its record high of 64 degree in 1889 and record low of 25 below zero on a frigid Christmas Eve in 1983.
If this record is ever to be broken, March 4 appears to be a good candidate. With a frigid 12-below record low (1873) and a record high of 73 degrees (1983) already on the books for an 85-degree span, a reasonably reachable high of 79 degrees would elevate this date into the top spot.
This Winter has been brutal for most Midwesterners. However, it has yielded some stunning images of snow and ice. Some of the best photos are from photographer Ken Scott of northern Michigan. These ice cave snapshots were taken on Lake Michigan near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Courtesy Ken Scott http://www.kenscottphotography.com
YouTube … time-lapse clip experiments: http://www.youtube.com/user/KenScottPhotography
Here is a stunning photo of Chicago and Lake Michigan captured by Heidi Einsweiler, airborne on Friday morning.
What was a massive, solid sheet of ice on Thursday showed signs of cracking Friday due to a southwest wind and 40 degree temperatures.
Photo Courtesy of Heidi Einsweiler
Hazardous travel has developed across the Chicago area this morning as a combination of rain/sleet/snow has transitioned over to all snow and temperatures are gradually falling below freezing. Light snow has spread across the Chicago area this morning in the wake of a cold front that passed through from the north overnight. Conditions are expected to slowly improve from west to east this morning as the snow slowly departs.
High pressure is building into northeast Illinois, northwest Indiana and southeast Wisconsin this morning with gusty north to northeast winds pushing colder, drier air into our area. The high will center over the Midwest tonight and then move east allowing the return of warmer southerly flow here Sunday.
Airport visibility snow locations of light snow/fog – prinmarily central and southern portions of Chicago area at 7AM CST..