By Meteorologist Tom Skilling
Chicago temperatures this meteorological spring—the three month period from March 1 to May 31—have extended this past winter’s trend of cooler than normal temperatures. With the season more than half over, 60% of its days have posted temperature deficits.
The one way spring differs from this past winter is that it’s been dry.
The season ranks driest of any spring to date over the past 17 years! Its 2.99” observed precipitation (this includes rain and melted snow) is just 60% normal and down nearly 2 inches.
It’s a trend not limited to Chicago’s official observation station at O’Hare. Our analysis of precip tallies at Chicago area observation sites shows the same trend.
Surging temps Thursday and Friday belie the chill and strengthening winds due to take up residence over the coming weekend and spill over into next week
The chilly temperatures which dominated Wednesday are to ease Thursday—and even more so Friday—as the current easterly wind regime off Lake Michigan gives way to more southerly Thursday afternoon and evening winds. That southerly flow is to transport Gulf moisture into the area providing fuel for shower and thunderstorm development Thursday afternoon into Thursday night.
I believe this was among the coldest winters on record, and since Jan.1 this seems like one of the coldest starts to a calendar year in my memory.
— D. Baxter, Chicago
Most area residents would agree with you. The winter (December through February) just ended ranks as Chicago’s fourth coldest. That’s the result of a computer scan of 144 winters in Chicago’s official temperature database (from the winter of 1870-71 through 2013-14).
With an average temperature of 18.8 degrees, it was 0.5 degrees warmer than the 18.3-degree average of the coldest winter, 1903-04.
And last winter’s chill has persisted into the spring. Through April 21, the average temperature for 2014 stands at 26.6 degrees, the city’s seventh coldest for that period (Jan. 1-April 21). Coldest: 1875 at 25.0 degrees.
By Meteorologist Tom Skilling
Cool weather’s back in town the next 2 days. Tuesday’s chilly 50-degree northerly winds are to veer northeast Tuesday night and Wednesday, a development with all sorts of temperature implications here—the most evident among them the likelihood that easterly winds off Lake Michigan Wednesday may limit beach temperatures to the 40s.
Beyond the current cool down, temps are to rebound with afternoon highs reaching the mid to upper 60s before a wind shift to the northeast Friday night sends temps tumbling over the coming weekend.
Despite recent warmth, 2014 temps since Jan 1 are running at their chilliest levels in 32 years and 7th coolest of comparable periods 143 years ago here
Back-to-back 70s Easter Sunday and Monday haven’t been enough to boost 2014′s average temperature much. The period from January 1 through April 21 is the coldest in 32 years and ranks 7th-chilliest of the 143 years of observational records here in Chicago.
Chill over broad area of U.S. has 2014 tornado generation to date at the lowest level since at least 1953
Never in 60 years of record keeping have so few U.S. tornadoes occurred by April 22. NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center reported Monday that 2014′s tornado tally is the lowest which has occurred through April 21 in at least the past 60 years.
Are trees that begin sprouting after warm spells in March likely to suffer or be killed when cold spells occur after they have sprouted?
— Sharon North, Zion
Probably not. That’s the word from Doris Taylor, plant information specialist at the Morton Arboretum. She says it would take a few weeks of abnormally mild temperatures in March followed by an outbreak of bitterly cold air (readings as low as zero degrees) to create serious problems for native trees.
Extended warmth in March would encourage magnolias, crab apple and other more sensitive trees to bloom earlier than usual. Their buds would not be harmed, but foliage would prove most vulnerable because those tissues are most sensitive. Other plants witha history of sprouting or blooming early deal with cold and snow quite successfully.
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.