When was the last time it officially dropped to minus 20?

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Dear Tom,
In recent winters we’ve dropped below zero, but haven’t seen anything like the brutal cold of the early 1980s.
When was the last time it officially dropped to minus 20?

Thanks,
Melissa Gould

Dear Melissa,
It’s been quite a while. The city’s last encounter with a temperature of 20 below or lower occurred nearly a quarter of a century ago when the mercury plunged to minus 21 on January 18, 1994. The high that day was just 11 below, tying the city’s all-time lowest maximum temperature, first set on Christmas Eve in 1983. We had Chicago weather historian Frank Wachowski check and archives and dating back to 1871 the city has recorded a temperature as low as minus 20 on just 15 days; incredibly 10 of them between 1982 and 1994. Chicago’s lowest temperature on record is minus 27 recorded on a frigid Sunday morning- January 20,1985.

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