Skilling: Chicago’s 63-degree high blows away 99-year-old record

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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.

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