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What is the earliest-in-the year date for severe weather in the Chicago area?

Dear Tom,
We had severe weather this year on Feb. 22 and Feb. 28. What had been the earliest-in-the year date for severe weather in the Chicago area?
— Steven Lifka, Brookfield

Dear Steven,

Typically Chicago’s severe weather season begins in March or April and runs into the fall, but severe weather has occurred in every month of the year.

The earliest-in-the year event occurred nearly a decade ago when severe thunderstorms and tornadoes struck portions of northern Illinois and southeast Wisconsin on Jan. 7, 2008. An EF3 twister carved out a 13-mile-long damage path northwest of Chicago from Poplar Grove to north of Harvard. Other twisters struck in southeast Wisconsin near Wheatland and Brighton and the north side of Kenosha.

Previous to those twisters, the closest occurrence to Chicago of a January tornado was an F2 storm that hit Momence in Kankakee County on Jan. 25, 1950.