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Chicago Weather Center

Ask Tom why: What are Chicago's five warmest winters and how much snow did each produce?

February 8, 2012

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Dear Tom,

What are Chicago's five warmest winters and how much snow did each produce?

—Bill Ooms, Alsip

Dear Bill,

Chicago climatologist Frank Wachowski checked the records and found that three of Chicago's five warmest winters occurred before the start of the city's snowfall climatology, which began in the winter of 1884-85, forcing him to eliminate those winters from consideration. He noted that much like this winter, the city's five mildest winters since 1884-85 had subpar snowfalls. The warmest winter, 1931-32, had 24.6 inches of snow followed by 1889-90 with 21.7 inches; 1997-98 with 29.6 inches; 1918-19 with 28.7 inches; and 1920-21 (the city's least snowy winter) with 9.8 inches. The winter of 1953-54, the city's eighth warmest, was the first to record above normal snowfall, logging 43.2 inches.