Chicago and Lake Michigan are shrouded in fog as the sun rises on December 23, 2022, the day before Christmas, when temperatures plummet to a bitter -6 degrees Fahrenheit (-21 degrees Celsius). On December 22, 2022, dozens of flights were canceled, and key highways were closed due to a “once-in-a-generation” winter storm that brought temperatures as low as -40F (-40C) to the United States.
Residents are concerned about the long-term effects of the recent dangerously low temperatures and the winter storm that delivered them.
Even though the Chicago area is due for dramatic weather shifts in the coming week, the holiday season (especially Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) will be extremely chilly.
Despite Friday’s below-zero highs (with wind chills of close to -40 degrees), Saturday and Sunday will be very cold due to persistent winds and persistently low temperatures. This will be one of the coldest Christmases ever recorded in the Chicago area, with air temperatures barely reaching 10 degrees Fahrenheit on both days. It is likely that much cooler temperatures and the possibility of blowing snow will linger as stronger winds remain.
However, that will not be the case after Monday. A change of 90 degrees in effective temperature may occur in a few days if temperatures get near 50 degrees. Temperatures are expected to rise into the 50s and 60s by the middle of next week, with rain perhaps following the trend.
Just How Long Does It Take to Get Frostbite?
The National Weather Service warns that a clipper system may pass through the area late Sunday night or early Monday, increasing the likelihood of snowfall and creating hazardous driving conditions for Christmas and the days immediately following.
On Christmas Day, December 25, 1983, the peak temperature at O’Hare International Airport was a record-breaking minus 5 degrees, making it the coldest Christmas ever recorded.
Two years later, in 1985, the high temperature only reached 2 degrees, making that year the second-coldest on record.
As you may expect, this Christmas will be very different from the past several. It was the second warmest Christmas in Chicago history, with a high of 57 degrees on December 25th, 2019. The high temperature of Christmas Day last winter was 55 degrees, the seventh hottest on record.