Coldest Day on Record–Not So. Maybe. Go Figure.

This morning I heard a TV weatherman say this is the coldest day (-16) on record in Chicago. Of course, I had to Google that assertion, especially because I wondered if, in my lifetime, I had now lived through the hottest and the coldest days on record in Chicago. Not surprisingly, I found out that the Cable TV was mistaken (large gasp!) or at least, misleading. Turns out, the coldest recorded temperature day in Chicago occurred on January 20, 1985 when it was -27 with a -60 wind chill. In the city (note: CITY) of Chicago.

The Tribune is no better than Cable TV at creating confusion: “The Chicago area hit a new record low for today. At 8 a.m., it was minus 16 at O’Hare International Airport, according to the official recording station for the city. The old record was minus 14, set in 1988 and 1884”. Interesting, since there was no O’Hare Airport in 1884 so there was no official recording station at O’Hare to know it was -14 in 1884. (Note: Chicago AREA hit a new record.)

And, of course, the coldest day (-36) in Illinois (note: STATE of Illinois not CITY of Chicago or Chicago AREA) occurred in 1954, but that was in Congerville, Illinois, which may have disappeared into vapor that day because no one has ever heard of it since.

Here’s the best source of historic high/low temperature information for you weather geeks:

And for those gardeners who miss summer, the hottest summer was in 2012, when we had four days over 100 degrees, but the hottest day ever was on July 24, 1934, when it reached a truly sweltering 105 in Chicago (but in 1954 East St. Louis climbed to 117!).

BIRD WATCH UPDATE: Despite the cold, it’s sunny outside today with little wind. At 10 am, our bird feeders were in full frenzy, with all kinds (even cardinals and a red-bellied woodpecker) in a hungry mob. At 10:30, virtually every one flew away but into the same evergreen: a large Western Red Cedar [Thuja plicata] and only a few Dark eyed junco’s returned until 2:30 pm when they all appeared again. What’s that about? Do they take a noontime siesta together?##

Photo by Carolina Bird ClubPhoto:  Courtesy of Carolina Bird Club

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Birds, Bugs & Butterflies, Uncategorized, Weather

6 Responses to Coldest Day on Record–Not So. Maybe. Go Figure.

  1. Martha Drummond

    Our Jacksonville grandfather was smart to have been in the ie business in those days. Congerville is likely some neighborhood within a town or city.. now. My current neighborhood was once part of a village unto itself within Glastonbury. Have a toasty day near your source of heat.

  2. Martha Drummond

    Love your photo of the woodpeckers. Thanks. Congerville is a village in Woodford County Illinois and according to maps lays between Morton and Bloomington-likely linked to the Conger family known for its large number of Politicians. Town is less than 2 miles square and population under 500.

  3. FlowersintheWoods

    Thanks for the clarification. The news keeps saying’ coldest temps in 20 years’ but I truly remember the Jan. 1985 days of -27 in Chicago. I had a 6 month old Dalmation puppy and all we could do in our drafty Cleveland / Fullerton Apt. was climb into bed and stay warm! It will be interesting to see how the flora & fauna show this spring 2014. Yesterday I’ve found #2 dead Blue Jays in my garage. Unfortunately I stopped feeding the deer and birds last year because it brings Coyotes and I can’t risk them prowling regularly w/ a small dog in the family now!

    • weedpatchgazette

      Brr, another reader just emailed to say her car windshield cracked in half horizontally during the cold snap of 1985, so she took issue with “coldest day ever” too. Someone else also wrote to ask if the Emerald Ash Borers would die in this cold. I’d sure rather that happen than have Bluejays keeling over (and that’s a big bird, imagine a little Chickadee trying to stay warm). So sad! Thanks for writing! Rommy

  4. Donna Hirsch

    I’m thinking they meant the coldest day for THAT DAY (January 6 or 7)- not forever in the city proper. You are right though they could have been more clear. I guess the cold froze a few brain cells.

    • weedpatchgazette

      ohhhh, hmmm, now isn’t that smart of you. I’m sure that must be the answer. But that perspective really takes the oomph out of the “coldest day ever” cacophony, doesn’t it? Sort of like the difference between saying, “the maddest I’ve ever been” and “the maddest I’ve ever been on January 6th”. BIG DIFF. The news mongers make me crazee. Which is the craziest I’ve ever been, on January 7th.#

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