What was the weather like during the Great Chicago Fire?

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Dear Tom,

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire. What was the weather like during the three-day fire?

—Stephen Verhaeren, Palos Park

Dear Stephen,

Warm, dry, and windy sums it up nicely. Not a drop of rain had fallen in the city since Sept. 28. The fire began on the warm Sunday night of Oct. 8, following an unseasonably warm 85-degree day. Winds were strong and from the SW with gusts as high as 40 mph, causing the fledgling fire to grow and spread rapidly through the dry, wooden city. The fire continued to rage on Monday, a sunny and nearly as warm 80-degree day as the strong, gusty SW winds continued. The weather finally turned cooler on Tuesday as the fire died out, with the high temperature only reaching 62 degrees. The strong SW winds had subsided and were blowing gently from the west.

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