Dangerous Chicago cold snap could lead to coldest Valentine’s Day on record
Sunday brought single-digit high temperatures and sub-zero wind chills. Chicago’s current cold stretch has lasted eight days so far, earning a spot in the top 10 longest cold snaps in the city’s history.
High temperatures haven’t cracked 21 degrees in Chicago for eight straight days and counting, possibly putting the city in line to experience the coldest Valentine’s Day on record.
Couples had another reason to cuddle up Sunday, as temperatures dipped to minus-3 degrees early in the morning, climbing only to 5 degrees by noon.
The wind-chill factor, which had dipped to minus-23 degrees about 4 a.m. Sunday at Midway Airport, was still at minus-11 by noon.
The forecasted high was 7 degrees, which would break the record for the coldest high on Feb. 14, last set in 1943 when temperatures peaked at 8 degrees, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Lee Carlaw.
“It’s definitely possible that we’re headed there,” Carlaw said.
Even without a record, the recent bout of frigid weather is among the top 10 longest cold snaps in the city’s history.
It’s still well short of the area’s all-time record of 19 consecutive bitter days in 1899, but the freezing weather isn’t about to release its icy grip this weekend, according to NWS meteorologist Rafal Ogorek.
Saturday night was expected to be the second chilliest night during this cold stretch, with temperatures forecasted to dip to minus 5 degrees and wind chill values plummeting as low as minus 30.
“When you’re talking about wind chills that are minus 20, minus 30, that’s when you can get frostbite on exposed skin within 10 to 20 minutes,” Ogorek said. “So we certainly encourage people to stay indoors overnight, and if they can’t, then bundle up.”
On top of the freezing temperatures, snow continues to pile up across the area. About 2 inches of snow fell by noon Saturday at O’Hare Airport during the latest round of flurries, Ogorek said. The highest snowfall total was reported in northwest Indiana with 6 inches.
The area will see even more snow between Sunday night and Tuesday morning, with the city expected to receive another 2-4 inches.
Two overnight warming centers in the city will remain open until 5 p.m. Monday at the Garfield Community Service Center, 10 S. Kedzie Ave.; and the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Center, 4314 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
Residents can call 311 to locate the closest warming area to them. Locations are also listed on the city’s website.
Select Chicago Public Library branches also will be open as warming centers until Monday, and Chicago Police Department district stations are open 24/7.