How much does lakefront weather in Chicago differ from suburban weather?

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Dear Tom,

In the Chicago area, how much does lakefront weather differ from suburban weather? Autumn frosts occur later near the lake, for example. 

—Jimmy M., East of Rockford

Dear Jimmy,

Weather varies greatly between the lakefront and suburbs. Typically, lake Michigan warms the lakefront during the winter and cools it during the summer (at least during the day). The National Weather Service does not record frost data, but the first autumn freeze dates vary by more than a month from about Oct. 2 in the coldest outlying suburbs to Oct. 11 at O’Hare International Airport to Oct. 25 at Midway Airport to Nov. 5 in the Loop. Early season snowfalls can also be affected, with rain falling in relatively warm low-level air along the lake while wet snow accumulates in outlying suburbs. 

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