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Chicago Weather Center

Ask Tom why: The high and low temperature records for Dec. 25 occurred in consecutive years, 1982 and 1983. How rare is that?

January 8, 2012

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Dear Tom,

I noticed the high and low temperature records for Dec. 25 occurred in consecutive years, 1982 and 1983. How rare is that?

—Rich Barnes

Dear Rich,

Though it is unusual for record highs and record lows to occur in back-to-back years, it is more common than you might think. Checking Chicago's temperature records, this scenario has occurred six times, five of them during the 1980s. The 64-degree record high on Dec. 25, 1982, and the record low of minus 17 on that date in 1983 are the best known occurrences because of the holiday. The other instances of consecutive years with record highs and lows were Oct. 21 (87 degrees in 1952 and 26 degrees in 1952); May 11 (89 in 1982 and 33 in 1981); Dec. 23 (62 in 1982 and minus 21 in 1983); July 28 (100 in 1983 and 51 in 1984); and April 21 (88 in 1985 and 27 in 1986).