ASK TOM: What year had the most temperature records broken?

Dear Tom,

What year holds the record for the greatest number of daily temperature records broken?

— Orin Albrecht, Aurora


Dear Orin,

Daily temperature records are maintained for each of the 366 calendar days of the year (including Feb. 29, “leap day”). These daily records are: the highest temperature, lowest temperature, coldest high temperature and mildest low temperature. Using those four criteria, a computer sweep of Chicago’s entire official temperature data base from Nov. 1, 1870, to the present indicates that 1983 stands ahead of all other years with 32 daily temperature records either broken or tied: 10 record highs, 15 record lows, four lowest highs and three highest lows. The year 1953 leads with the greatest tally of daily record highs, 22.