Story Summary

January warm spell in Chicago

Tuesday became the warmest January 29 in Chicago history, toppling a 99-year-old record at 7 a.m.


Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 7 updates

Chicagoland’s spring-like weather is now just a memory.

After topping out at 63 degrees Tuesday our temperatures will gradually fall through the day Wednesday.

As our temperatures tumble light morning rain showers will transition into a wintry mix around midday, before changing to all snow during the afternoon.  Any snow accumulations are expected to be light with 1-3 inches a possibility.

The biggest issue with temperatures falling below 32 degrees could be the freezing of untreated surfaces still wet from heavy recent rains.  Caution is advised as slick and icy conditions could be a problem later today and tonight.

Though brief, our latest blast of cold air is expected to pack quite a wallop.  Thursday’s temperatures aren’t expected to move much.  The forecast calls for morning temps in the lower teens, with highs in the upper teens.

Friday morning looks like it will be the coldest of the next 7 days as temperatures drop to around zero.  Breezy conditions will drop Friday mornings wind chills to 10-15 below zero.  Highs Friday are only expected to reach the lower teens before we see a new chance for snow Friday night into Saturday.  Snow accumulations could reach a couple of inches.

Warm weather in January? You bet, says WGN-TV Chief Meteorologist Tom Skilling. Temperatures in Chicago hit 63 degrees just before 7 a.m Tuesday, setting a new record.

“This is April weather in late January,” Skilling said in Tuesday Midday News weather forecast.

Now, Skilling says, the biggest rain in 9 months is headed our way. Radar shows thunderstorms closing in on Chicago during evening rush.

Due to the rain, some airlines at O’Hare Airport are reporting delays averaging 30 minutes for inbound and outbound flights, Department of Aviation officials say. Additionally, there is a ground stop in effect at Midway Airport for northbound planes due to the weather.

CHICAGO WEATHER CENTER BLOG - Travel Outlook: Heavy snow likely northwest of Chicago

Plus, there’s a tornado watch out for western Illinois, including St. Louis and Quincy until 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Severe weather is a threat to Chicago area, too. Chicagoland could see flooding downpours that switch to snow Wednesday afternoon. Accumulation amid the falling temps Wednesday afternoon and evening could be worrisome, Skilling says, given that the standing water may freeze. Untreated outdoor surfaces could become icy and any snow on top, even a modest amount, won’t help, he says.

Could usually warm January temps lead to snow?

Skilling says viewers have asked him about the possibility of snow following abnormal January warm spells. The January 1967 blizzard  — which produced 23″ of snow, 53 MPH wind gusts, 4-6′ drifts — came after two days of more than 60-degree warmth which included thunderstorms.

According to research by Chicago Weather Center staff member Rich Koeneman, 19 of 21 60-degree spells in January in Chicago were followed by measurable snow (at least 0.1”). He noted that 12 of them saw 1”+ totals; 8 were followed by 4”+ tallies; 4 had 6” or more and just one — 1967 — was followed by 23” of snowfall.

For the latest weather updates go to

Today is already the warmest Jan. 29 in Chicago history, toppling an almost 100-year-old record 15 minutes before the sun came up.


Monday’s weather was a precursor to the warmer weather on today. Bicyclists ride on the lakefront near North Avenue Beach in Chicago on a mild Monday afternoon. (Jose M. Osorio/Tribune)

The previous record – 59 degrees in 1914 – was surpassed at 6:50 a.m. at O’Hare International Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

Chicago is also flirting with a new all-time high for January. The current record is 67 degrees set on Jan. 25, 1950. Today’s forecast is for a high of 66 degrees.

“This is basically a May air mass in January,” said Richard Castro, a meteorologist for the weather service.Rain is expected all day, with thunderstorms likely as a cold front moves through later today, Castro said.“Scattered thunderstorms are the rule for the day,” he said. “Any thunderstorms that develop could be very efficient in rainfall production.”Anywhere from 1 to 1.5 inches of rain is expected to fall, and the area is under a flood warning because the ground is still frozen.“The top layers are fairly saturated and beneath that it’s rock hard from being frozen from the cold snap last week, so there’s nowhere for (the water) to go,” Castro said.

The warm, wet weather will give way to colder temperatures Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with forecasters predicting snow on Wednesday afternoon and highs in the teens on Thursday and Friday.

Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking

Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

Chicago’s morning weather forecast

We should experience quite a variety of weather in the week ahead.

By Monday night conditions will become more unstable with strengthening winds and increased low-level moisture leading to the development of showers and possible thunderstorms. For the second straight night temperatures will slowly rise Monday night, so that 50-degree temperatures could greet residents to the start the day Tuesday.

Showers and thunderstorm downpours with even the possibility of severe storms could occur during the day Tuesday – as temperatures threaten the 59-degree record high set 99 years ago in 1914.

CT ct-kc-snow-feature 01.jpg

Wearing boots and a sweater to keep warm, Kiki crosses LaSalle Street with her owner, Zofia Texton, as they take their evening walk.

One to two-inch rainfall on top of frozen ground could result in significant runoff, and the warm temperatures could melt ice on the rivers creating ice jams – all resulting in high flood potential.

Temperatures will fall sharply Tuesday night after the cold frontal passage as strong northwest winds usher in the leading edge of a southward-moving Arctic high pressure air mass. Chicago will finds itself deeper and deeper into the cold air as the Arctic high pressure settles farther south the latter half of the workweek.

Highs in the teens and sub-zero wind chills can be expected here next Thursday and Friday.

For up-to-date forecast and radar, log on to The Chicago Weather Center.

Just about any type of weather you can think of is in the forecast for the week ahead with record warmth,  a threat of severe storms and potentially flooding rains, followed by a blast of arctic air and the chance for measurable snowfall.

A damp, dreary and mild Monday is expected to turn stormy Monday night.


A pedestrian crosses W. Wrightwood Ave. at N. Kedzie Ave. in Chicago’s Logan Square on a mild Monday morning, Jan. 28, 2013. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune)

Showers and thunderstorms are likely overnight and into early Tuesday morning.  After spending Monday in the upper 40s, Tuesday’s temperatures will really take off.  Breezy south winds will help push temperatures into the low 60s as we see a lull in our wet weather during the day Tuesday.  If the forecast verifies it will break the record high of 59 degrees.

Late Tuesday afternoon and into the evening another round of thunderstorms, some potentially severe, are forecast to move through the region.  These storms could bring 1-2” of rainfall and possible flooding.

Behind the cold front responsible for the severe weather threat our temperatures will tumble.  A wintry mix Wednesday morning is expected to change to all snow as temperatures fall through the day.  An inch or two of snow is possible.

The coldest air of the week comes Thursday and Friday.  Breezy conditions will make Thursday’s high in the upper teens feel even colder.  Overnight lows could approach zero Friday morning.  Highs once again are forecast in the teens Friday afternoon and chance of snow returns Friday evening.


Chicago’s morning weather forecast