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Chicago Weather Center

Ask Tom why: I worked at O'Hare International Airport from 1981-1995 and remember extremely cold weather two weekends in a row in the early 1980s. What year was that?

January 27, 2012

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Dear Tom,

I worked at O'Hare International Airport from 1981-1995 and remember bouts of extremely cold weather two weekends in a row in the early 1980s. Can you help me out?

—Wayne Varnes, Strongsville, Ohio

Dear Wayne,

The early 1980s featured an unprecedented clustering of bitterly cold weather in Chicago. Since late 1870 the city has recorded temperatures of at least minus 20 degrees on just 15 occasions and nine of them occurred between 1982 and 1985. Your frigid weekend memories are of back-to-back Sundays in January 1982 that featured intense cold and snow that combined with strong winds to create blizzard conditions and incredibly low wind chills. On Jan. 10, 1982, the high was minus 4 and the low was minus 26 (the city's record low at the time) with just under an inch of snow. The following Sunday brought 2 inches of snow with a high of 4 above and a low of 23 below zero.