This winter, the coldest in decades, has been a long, cold haul for Chicagoans. The area is in the midst of its fourth consecutive month of below normal temps. And NOT just modestly colder than normal—- February is running an eye-catching 14.5-degrees below normal and 8 of the month’s first 11 days—73% of them— have produced have produced double-digit daily temp deficits.
This winter now ranks among the coldest 5% since 1871. It’s the 3rd snowiest on the books to date with more than 62 inches of snow to its credit, and has produced more 0 and sub-zero days through Feb. 11 of any over the past 143 years.
Road to next week’s February thaw to be interrupted by blustery yet only “moderate” late week temp pullback
With all this as prologue, it’s little wonder prospects of a pattern shift, even one which is likely to be of finite length, has caught the attention of winter-weary Chicagoans. Temps are headed higher the next two days—albeit slowly—and could include the first near-freezing daytime temp in nearly two weeks Thursday.
A lobe of colder air is to hit Friday into Saturday, temporarily checking the temperature increase. But even warmer temps are ahead next week—though longer range forecasts suggest temps could return to a late-season version of their chilly ways late this month and into March.
Cold temps have fueled extraordinary Great Lakes ice growth
There hasn’t been as much ice on the Great Lakes since the barbarically cold winters of the late 1970s. 87% of these mammoth lakes boast a cover of ice. Lake Michigan is nearly 66% ice-covered and 90% or more of Lakes Huron and Erie are filled with ice.
Powerhouse late winter storm lifting out of Gulf, threatening major weather impacts including big snows, damaging ice accumulations and heavy, wind-driven coastal rains/waves out East
The powerful and soon-to-be rapidly-intensifying late winter storm, lifting from the eastern Gulf into the Atlantic, is threatening millions across the Deep South and along the Eastern Seaboard a rough meteorological ride the next 2 days. The system is to proceed northward, paralleling the East Coast. Its impacts may include devastating accumulations of ice and heavy, wind-driven snow accumulations which could exceed a foot in harder-hit locations from the Carolina Mountains into sections of Virginia, Maryland, eastern Pennsylvania into New England.