Were winters temperatures in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s similar to those of today?

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Dear Tom,
It seems that unlike recent years, the 1950s and early 1960s in the Chicago area experienced colder winters. I recall that ice skating at Phillips Park Lagoon in Aurora was so popular that the ice sometimes crushed under the weight of the skaters. Is this true, or has my memory been obscured by age?
— Donna Moses
Dear Donna,
We used Midway Airport data to make some calculations. During the entire period of record, 1928-29 through 2017-18, the average number of days with a high temperature of 32 degrees or lower at Midway Airport in the cold season is 44 days. In the period 1950-51 through 1962-63, it was also 44 days; in recent years (2010-11 through 2017-18), 41 days.
It appears your memory of ice skating about 65 years ago is somewhat off track. Winter temperatures then were similar to winters now.

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