Chicago endures its 9th coldest December in 139 years

December’s opening week average of 21.8 degrees—more than 10 degrees below normal—joins two others since 2005 in being unusually cold—2005 (16.5 degrees) and 2006 (18.3 degrees).

Chicago Tribune | Dec 9, 2008

By Tom Skilling

It’s rain—not snow—that greets commuters Tuesday morning as the latest winter storm sweeps the area. Despite the fact the metro area’s been mired in uninterrupted cold air for a month—responsible for the 9th coldest December opening in 139 years—south winds have tapped mild air and temperatures have been rising during the night.

The current “warmth” won’t last. Cold air returns as winds shift north/northeast Tuesday afternoon changing rain to sleet and snow for several hours late Tuesday and Tuesday evening before ending. Only an inch or two of snow is to accumulate in the immediate Chicago area—less south, but as much as 3 inches near the Illinois-Wisconsin line. These totals pale in comparison to the 8 to 13 inches predicted through central Wisconsin and lower Michigan.

This December’s opening week average of 21.8 degrees—more than 10 degrees below normal—joins two others since 2005 in being unusually cold—2005 (16.5 degrees) and 2006 (18.3 degrees).

The collapse of a ridge aloft over the Atlantic has set the stage for a westward shift in the coldest air in the U.S. It’s a pattern expected to bring 40s here Sunday while introducing much larger temperature swings in coming weeks.

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