I tell people that the winter of 1978-79 was Chicago’s snowiest winter on record. Was that winter also Chicago’s coldest on record?
Winter 1978-79 was the third in a three-set series of winters, starting with the 1976-77 cold season, which hit with a severity this area had never seen before or since. They are the city’s worst winters since weather records began in 1870. They combined extended spells of barbaric cold with, in two of the three seasons, snowfalls of 82.3 inches in 1977-78 and the record-breaking 89.7 inches in 1978-79, amounts never before witnessed here.
Chicago’s coldest winter was the winter of 1903/04, with an average temperature of 18.3 degrees. The winter of 1978/79 was the city’s second coldest ever, with 18.4 degrees.