Chicago’s brutally cold January 1994 arctic outbreak

Dear Tom,
During the January 1994 cold outbreak, there was a lot of media attention focused on Chicago. We did not set an all-time record low so why all the national coverage?
— David White
Dear David,
While the brutally cold January 1994 arctic outbreak did not break the city’s all-time low of minus 27 set on Jan. 20, 1985, Jan. 18, 1994, did tie the city’s record for the all-time lowest maximum and came within 2 degrees of being the city’s coldest day on record based on average temperature. On Jan. 18, the high reached only 11 below zero, following a morning low of minus 21 and yielding a daily average temperature of minus 16. Only Dec. 24, 1983, was colder with the same high of minus 11 coupled with a low of minus 25 for a daily average temperature of minus 18. The week of Jan. 14-20, 1994, with an average temperature of minus 6.0 below zero, stands as the city’s coldest on record.