Not since last September have Chicagoans been treated to a temperature as warm as Wednesday’s 80°. The mercury reached the summerlike level at 1:30 pm and remained there for five minutes—retreating to June-like mid and upper 70s the remainder of the afternoon. This year’s first 80° high occurred three weeks earlier than the average date of April 28 and marked only the third time an April 6 high temp has been as warm. Over 135 years of official temperature records here, only 17 have hosted a warmer reading any earlier. April, 2005 is running nearly 10° above normal—12th warmest since 1871. Were the trend to continue, April would become the seventh of the past eight months to produce a temperature surplus.
The recent warm weather has impacted Lake Michigan’s temperature. In the past two weeks, Chicago’s shoreline water temp has warmed 10°—rising from 37° to 47°.
Chicagoans basked in the year’s third 70° temperature Tuesday—a June-level reading more than 20° above normal. But, while a real treat here, that same warm air mass fueled explosive t-storm development to the west. By late Tuesday evening, thunderstorms, some towering more than 9 miles above the Nation’s Heartland, had organized into a series of lines stretching across sections of 7 states, generating more than 130 reports of severe weather from Texas to Minnesota. At least nine twisters dipped from the stormy skies in Kansas as part of one of the largest single day outbreaks of severe weather thus far in 2005. A mammoth spring storm was behind the thundery outbreak. But to its west, 70 m.p.h. wind gusts delivered a cold rain and some snow horizontally to the high Plains and Front Range of Colorado—precipitation which extended east into Nebraska.