ASK TOM WHY: Are Boston winters much colder and snowier than Chicago winters?

Dear Tom,


My brother lives in Boston and insists that Boston’s winters are much colder and snowier than Chicago. Is that true?




Lew Lake Wheaton


Dear Lew,


Boston can lay claim to more snow, but Chicago, with its mid-continent location, compared to coastal Boston definitely takes the honors for being colder. Based on the 1981-2010 climatological normals, Boston averages about 43 inches of snow compared to about 37 inches in Chicago. However, a typical Chicago winter averages 26.4 degrees compared to 31.8 degrees in Boston. Chicago averages 129 days each year with temperatures of 32 degrees or lower compared to Boston’s 96. Comparing annual heating use in both cities- Boston requires about 10 percent less heating averaging 5681 heating degree day units compared to 6339 at Chicago.

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