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Monday’s 12-degree high marks coldest peak temperature for March 4 since 1890

A man walks down a snow covered road Monday morning. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Chicago’s freezing temperatures shattered a pair of longstanding weather records Monday, including a 129-year-old mark for the coldest high temperature recorded on March 4.

About 3:30 p.m, Monday’s high temperature topped out at a sweltering 12 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. That was enough to break the previous record from 1890, when the high temperature for March 4 only reached 17 degrees.

The city also recorded its lowest March temperature since 2002 about 5 a.m., when the mercury dipped to minus 3 degrees at O’Hare International Airport, according to the National Weather Service. The previous record of minus 7 was set on March 4, 2002.

The frigid conditions are unusual for March, which typically sees highs near 40 degrees, the weather service said.

But the cold weather is expected to linger for much of the week, the weather service said. As temperatures dip into the single-digits late Monday, scattered snow showers are expected to start moving through the area throughout the overnight hours and into Tuesday morning.

Partly sunny and breezy conditions are in the forecast Tuesday, when a daytime high of 21 degrees will feel more like minus 7 because of heavy winds that could reach up to 25 mph, the weather service said. At night, temperatures are expected to dip to 9 degrees while wind chill values jump to minus 4 degrees.

A daytime high of 28 degrees is expected Wednesday before temperatures drop to 15 degrees at night, the weather service said.

Despite the unusual cold for the first week of March, Chicagoans have escaped anything similar to the life-threatening polar vortex from late January.

However, residents are still warned to take measures against risk of frostbite, which could still seep into exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes, the weather service said.