ASK TOM WHY: This January has had four days of at least 50 degrees. Have this ever happened before?

Dear Tom,

 

This January will go down in the books with four days of at least 50 degrees. Has this ever happened before?

 

— Joseph Zwick

 
Dear Joseph,

 

While January is certainly Chicago’s coldest month, it often produces a few mild days in the 50s and 60s. While this January brought four days of 50 degrees or higher, just last year the city logged five such days as it did in 2002 and 1990. While impressive, those numbers are dwarfed by the 13 days of 50 degrees or higher logged in January 1880, the city’s warmest on record. The month’s average temperature, a balmy 39.8 degrees, was more typical of March and 16 degrees above the current January norm of 23.8 degrees.

 

That month featured two days with highs in the 60s, 11 in the 50s and not a single day when the temperature remained below freezing.

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