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60-degree temperature swing forecast to cap wild February weather in Chicago

Temperatures, which hit -7 earlier this month, could rise to the mid-50s this weekend — and approach the 60s near Kankakee.

Residents headed to the lakefront at Lawrence Avenue on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

After a month that saw Chicago smothered under an endless blanket of snow and sub-freezing temperatures, residents might be tempted to break out their shorts and fire up the grill as temperatures are expected to soar into the mid-50s this weekend — and even near 60 just an hour south of the city.

After a brief spell of rain and snow on Friday night, temperatures could reach a high of 50 degrees on what is expected to be a sunny Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

On Sunday, temperatures could climb even higher to 54 degrees during the day, before plummeting to a low in the mid-20s at night, the weather service said.

Cities like Kankakee could see temperatures as high as 56 on Saturday and 58 Sunday.

Despite the snow and ice that stubbornly cling to parts of the city, weather service meteorologist Todd Kluber said that the dramatic swing in temperature — from -7 degrees on Feb. 7 to the warmer weather expected this weekend — is not unusual for this time of year.

“Its just a pattern change, we’re getting to the point where the sun feels pretty warm this time of year,” Kluber said. “This is the same sun angle we see in mid-October, so when you think of those warm fall days, we’re getting the same sun angle now we would see at that time, even though we have snow on the ground and everything.”

The warmup comes after a three-week stretch saw 34.1 inches of snow fall on O’Hare — the snowiest stretch of that length in four decades.

And although we had been on pace to mark the coldest February on record, things have evened out somewhat: the average temperature as of Wednesday, 17.3 degrees, would result in the 14th coldest February on record.

Ice along the Lake Michigan coast is seen melting Feb. 23, 2021.
Ice along the Lake Michigan coast is seen melting Feb. 23, 2021.
Dave Newbart/Sun-Times