Extreme variations in Chicago’s snowfall totals

Weather Blog

Dear Tom,
Several days ago many locations in the Chicago area had 17-18 inches of snow but our official O’Hare total was only seven inches. Why not take an average for the total?

—Tom Daniels, Brookfield

Dear Tom,
Over time, snow totals across different area locations will even out (but variations will occur because of differences due to effects of Lake Michigan, city versus rural, etc.). Aside from those factors, heavy snow occurrences will eventually take place at all locations in the area with equal frequency. Precipitation totals are recorded officially at two Chicago locations: Midway Airport and O’Hare International Airport. Temperature observations and other weather variables are received from several other spots in the Chicago area, such as at Joliet, Waukegan and Wheeling, and disseminated hourly.

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