Chicago’s cool spring redeemed itself Sunday by delivering to the city its warmest Easter in nearly 30 years, matching the 79-degree high logged on March 30, 1986. Areas west and south of the city topped 80 and even lakeshore communities reached 70 before cooling afternoon lake breezes set in. Another round of 70s is expected Monday, but a gathering overcast leading to periods of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening will put a damper on the day. Cooler weather returns for Tuesday and Wednesday as Canadian high pressure moves in. More showers and thunderstorms are possible Thursday as another storm system approaches from the plains. The expected precipitation will be beneficial with the growing season moving into high gear, as Chicago area rainfall has been spotty this spring coming off a very snowy winter.
My husband insists that there was a major snow storm on May 1st many years ago. Is he correct?
It happened nearly 75 years ago, but your husband’s snowy memory is correct. The Chicago area received its heaviest May snow when 2.2 inches was fell on May 1-2, 1940 at the city’s official observation site on the University of Chicago campus. Following a balmy 73-degree high on April 30, temperatures plunged in the wake of a strong cold front. Rain began after midnight and changed to snow during the morning on May 1 and continued overnight finally ending the following afternoon. The snow forced the postponement of a game at Wrigley Field between the Cubs and Boston Bees. The snowfall was even heavier in other parts of the metro area with 3.7 inches at Midway Airport, 4.8 inches at Marengo and 5 inches at Elgin.
By Meteorologist Steve Kahn
High temperatures are forecast to climb into the 70s Sunday as south winds and ample sunshine deliver holiday warmth. Winds cutting in off chilly Lake Michigan, however, will keep areas along the north lakeshore a bit cooler. It should be the city’s warmest Easter in four years since a 76-degree high on April 4, 2010.
A cool-down will follow the passage of a cold front Monday, which will be accompanied by showers and thunderstorms. Despite the Chicago area’s very snowy winter, precipitation since March 1 is running about 1.5 inches below normal. A return to cooler weather is expected Tuesday and Wednesday before another round of showers and thunderstorms arrives Thursday setting the stage for a chilly weekend with temperatures forecast to only reach the lower 50s Saturday.
What was Chicago’s biggest Easter snow?
— Bob Johnson,
By the nature of Easter’s movable date, which can be as early as March 22 or as late as April 25, the weather on the holiday has greatly varied, ranging from wintry to summerlike. Since 1885 snow has fallen on 21 Easters, most recently in 2007. Most of the snowfalls have been minor events, but the holiday has hosted two major snowstorms.
On April 4, 1920, the city was hit by 6.4 inches of snow, but the biggest snowfall occurred March 29, 1964, when 7.1 inches fell. The snow began just before sunrise and lasted until about 5 p.m. Winds gusting to nearly 40 mph created near-blizzard conditions, with visibility dropping to less than one-quarter of a mile. An inch of snow also fell that Saturday.