What are the odds of a subzero-free winter? What are the city’s earliest and latest subzero occurrences?

Weather Blog

Dear Tom,
So far this season we’ve been focusing on the lack of snow. What are the odds of a subzero-free winter? What are the city’s earliest and latest subzero occurrences?

Thanks, Tom Gregg, Niles

Most Chicago winters record subzero temperatures, with a typical winter season averaging eight days with negative readings. Checking the city’s climate records dating back to the winter of 1870-71, there have been just 13 winters without one, most recently the winter of 2011-12. The winter with the most subzero days was back in 1884-85 when 25 were recorded. The city’s earliest subzero day was on November 23, 1950 with a low of minus 1. The latest was also a low of minus 1 on March 22, 1888. Chicago’s last below zero day was on Valentine’s Day February 14, 2021 when the mercury dipped to five below zero.

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