Recent Articles
  • Brief warming/Storms possible Thursday – workweek ends on windy note

    With deep low pressure passing to our west and north Thursday, first the associated warm front will move through the Chicago area from the south late in the day, followed soon aft     er by the storm’s cold front. This puts a least a portion of our area in the position of briefly experiencing the “warm sector” of this storm system- strong late afternoon-early evening warming well into the 60s and t-storms (a few severe storms possible). Strong westerly winds gusting […]

  • What are the world high and low temperature records, and Chicago’s?

    Dear Tom, What are the world high and low temperature records, and Chicago’s? Alvira Franko, Chicago Dear Alvira, Of all the world’s locations that are candidates for extreme temperature occurrences, two places rank above all others: Deserts for heat and polar regions for cold. Among the world’s deserts, Death Valley, California, claims the world’s heat record: 134 degrees recorded there on July 10, 1913. Death Valley is located in the east-central part of the Mojave Desert. The Earth’s south polar […]

  • Did Chicago’s 2018 precipitation set a new record?

    Dear Tom, 2018 sure seemed like a wet year in Chicago history. Did we break the city’s annual precipitation record? Thanks, Doug Congdon Zion Dear Doug, We did not, but we came close. According to Chicago weather historian Frank Wachowski, 2018 with 49.23 inches of precipitation was the city’s fourth wettest year dating back to 1871, surpassed only by 2008-50.86 inches, 2011-49.83 inches and 1983-49.35 inches. May was the wettest month of the year logging 8.21 inches, followed by 7.63 […]

  • Barbaric cold vaporizes hot water

    Science experiment in Kenosha, Wisconsin– Near-boiling water evaporates before it hits the ground!

  • Based on past history, what date of the year is it most likely to snow in Chicagoland?

    Dear Tom, Based on past history, what date of the year is it most likely to snow in Chicagoland? — Leslie Rosenwinkel, Glen Ellyn Dear Leslie, Based on data dating to the winter of 1884-85, Chicago’s historical season for measurable snowfall (at least 0.1 inche) extends from Oct. 12 through May 11. We asked Chicago climatologist Frank Wachowski to crunch the numbers, and he reported that the city’s dates with the most frequent measurable snowfalls over that period were Jan. […]

  • What would happen if 45 inches of rain fell on Chicago?

    Dear Tom, What would be the effect on Lake Michigan if Chicago received 45 inches of rain as coastal Texas did in August, 2017, with Hurricane Harvey? — Jim and Ed Schumer, Mount Prospect Dear Jim and Ed, If 45 inches of rain fell only on the Chicago area, the effect on the water level of Lake Michigan would be negligible. (Note that Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are actually one huge lake, connected by the Straits of Mackinac.) Much […]

  • Great Lakes area—a prime spot for storm development

    Click to Enlarge

  • Has Chicago set any records for precipitation this year?

    Dear Tom, We’ve had a lot of precipitation this year. Are there any records so far? — Andy Fowler, Woodstock Dear Andy, No records, but it certainly has been wet this year. Through Oct. 13, the city has officially logged 41.88 inches of water-equivalent precipitation, the sum of all the rain and snow that has fallen. That total is more than a foot (12.24 inches) above normal. We asked Chicago climatologist Frank Wachowski to rank the city’s year-to-date precipitation, and […]

  • What is the highest cloud top ever recorded?

    Dear Tom, What is the highest cloud top ever recorded? — Brian Gibson, Arden, N.C. Dear Brian, It’s not precisely known, but in general the higher the cloud top (in the middle latitudes), the more severe the weather associated with the cloud will be. The reference, of course, is to cumulonimbus clouds, the clouds that produce thunderstorms. In the Chicago area, typical summer thunderstorms develop to heights of 35,000 to 45,000 feet, but the tops of severe thunderstorms that produce […]

  • What is the city’s all-time record for consecutive days of precipitation?

    Dear Tom, The Chicago area has received a lot of rain lately. What is the city’s all-time record for consecutive days of precipitation? — Tom Gregg, Niles Dear Tom, The city’s record for longest stretch with measurable rainfall (.01 inches or more) is 11 days, which has happened on two occasions. The first was in 1880, from Aug. 24-Sept. 3, and the second in 1949, from May 15-25. Unlike our current deluges, the rainfall was not exceptional during those rainy […]

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.