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Chicago weather: The hottest, coldest, wettest and snowiest days of 2022

by staff

If Chicago’s weather for this year was best depicted by just one day, then it would be Feb. 22, 2022.

That day had a little bit of everything — cold, heat, rain and a little bit of snow, too. It’s like all of Chicago’s seasons were bundled into just one day.

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Rain appeared overnight in the city, but quickly changed into thunderstorms with hail, then covered the ground in freezing rain before turning into snow, according to the National Weather Service.

Still, Feb. 22 wasn’t the most significant day of the year for weather watchers. Winter, spring, summer and fall each had something special to share.

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These were the most extreme days in Chicago weather this year, with insights by meteorologists in the National Weather Service’s Chicago office and Trent Ford, Illinois state climatologist.

June 21, 2022

The first day of astronomical summer brought the heat. And though the century mark was not reached at O’Hare International Airport, the city’s official recording site, the metro area experienced some of its highest temperatures in a decade in June.

“This summer as a whole certainly wasn’t quite as warm as the past two summers, which finished among the top 10 warmest summers on record in Chicago (summer 2020 remains the warmest summer on record with an average temperature of 76.7 degrees, while summer 2021 was the eighth warmest on record with an average temperature of 75.3 degrees),” Rafal Ogorek, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service ‘s Chicago office, wrote in an email to the Tribune. “But there were still a few periods of notable warmth, mainly during the month of June.”

He says there was a brief spell of hot and humid weather when heat indices in the Chicago area peaked in the 105-115 degree range, while O’Hare airport recorded high temperatures of 98 degrees on the 14th and 96 degrees on the 15th, the latter of which set a new daily record for June 15th.

About a week later, a renewed bout of hot and humid weather returned with both O’Hare and Midway airports recording their warmest temperatures of the year of 99 and 101 degrees, respectively, on the 21st.

“Typically, we only see multiple days of 100-plus degree temperatures when we’re in a drought, because that’s when evaporation and humidity are limited, which allow daytime temperatures to soar into the upper 90s and 100-plus,” Illinois state climatologist Trent Ford said.

Dec. 23, 2022

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Extreme cold was short-lived in early 2022 — O’Hare experienced daily low temperatures below zero just twice between December and February, minus-1 degrees (Jan. 7) and minus-6 degrees (Jan. 26). Many days in January and February experienced below-normal high temperatures, but nothing severe.

The coldest temperature didn’t appear until almost the end of the year — just one week after Ford warned, “Winter’s coming with a vengeance.”

In preparation for the polar vortex’s arrival, people rushed to liquor stores, dispensaries and grocery stores to stock up on necessities and more.

Although forecasters predicted temperatures would plummet into the single digits, Chicagoans shrugged it off and proceeded with business as usual on Dec. 22, with some spotted jogging along Michigan Avenue or taking strolls with their families.

As the storm crawled across the middle of the country, it disrupted travel, upended holiday planning and shuttered much-loved holiday attractions, including the city’s Christkindlmarket.

Wind chills the morning of Dec. 23 reached 35 to 40 degrees below zero. The high temperature was minus-1 degree.

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By kickoff on Dec. 24, at the Chicago Bears game against the Buffalo Bills at Soldier Field, the temperature had risen to 9 degrees — still cold enough to make it the fifth-coldest Bears home game at the stadium.

A boy tests his fishing luck in floodwater on a fully submerged Scranton Avenue after heavy overnight rain on July 23, 2022, in Lake Bluff.

July 23, 2022

Volatile conditions during the late evening hours of July 22 into the early morning hours of July 23 brought heavy rain, flooding and quarter- to golf-ball-sized hail in several locations around the Chicago metro area. Three early morning EF-0 tornadoes were also recorded in Will County.

[ Vintage Chicago Tribune: Tornadoes!!! ]

“While the overall amount of severe weather that we had this summer was more or less average relative to what was seen in recent years, there were a few notable events that packed a punch,” Ogorek told the Tribune.

  • June 13: A supercell thunderstorm produced two EF-0 tornadoes in the northwest suburbs (one in Hoffman Estates and the other in Schaumburg and Roselle). Widespread strong straight-line winds downed numerous trees and power lines across parts of Cook and DuPage counties. An 84-mph wind gust was measured at O’Hare airport as this storm moved through and estimated 90-95 mph wind gusts caused notable structural damage in the near west suburbs of Chicago.
  • July 4-5: Multiple rounds of storms produced damaging winds and minor flooding in northern Illinois.
  • Aug. 3: Severe, scattered thunderstorms affected the Chicago area with localized microburst winds of 60-70 mph.
  • Aug. 7-8: Two rounds of heavy rain over 30 hours produced more than 5 inches of rain in northern Illinois and caused flash flooding. Rockford saw the highest precipitation total — more than 6 inches.

Fortunately, the damage seen with this summer’s severe weather events wasn’t quite as severe or extensive as the damage caused by severe weather that was seen in recent summers, Ogorek said.

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Feb. 2, 2022

In December 2021, some may have wondered if it would ever snow in Chicago again. The area’s first official snowfall accumulation of the season was also its latest ever — finally arriving Dec. 28, 2021.

“The normal first measurable snowfall is Nov. 18, and Chicago saw a stretch of 287 days with no measurable snow from March 15 to Dec. 28, 2021,” National Weather Service Chicago meteorologist Brett Borchardt wrote in an email to the Tribune.

After a mostly dry January 2022, Ford said, February and March finally provided a winter wonderland.

“Snowfall has definitely ramped up since the year began and following a bottom 10 snowy December, both January and February have had above normal snow totals,” he wrote.

The Feb. 1-3 winter storm brought Chicago its largest snowfall of the season — 5.6 inches — with all but 0.2 of that falling on Groundhog Day.

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