Top 10 Coldest Days In Chicago History

Chicago, often known as the Windy City, is known for its cold winters and brutal weather conditions. The city has seen its fair share of icy temperatures throughout history, with some days standing out as exceptionally cold. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the top 10 coldest days in Chicago’s recorded history, showcasing just how extreme the city’s winters can be.

1. January 20, 1985: On this day, Chicago experienced its coldest temperature ever recorded, with the mercury dropping to a bone-chilling -27 degrees Fahrenheit. This record-breaking cold was part of a polar vortex that engulfed the entire Midwest.

2. January 10, 1982: Another freezing winter day for Chicago, with the temperature plunging to -26 degrees Fahrenheit. This bitter cold was accompanied by strong winds, making it feel even colder outside.

3. December 24, 1983: Christmas Eve in 1983 was a frigid one, with temperatures hitting -25 degrees Fahrenheit. The city was blanketed in snow, creating a winter wonderland but also making it challenging for residents to get around.

4. January 16, 1982: Just a few days before the -26-degree day mentioned earlier, Chicago experienced another cold snap, with temperatures dropping to -25 degrees Fahrenheit. This prolonged period of freezing weather led to numerous winter-related problems across the city.

5. January 17, 1982: The following day after the previous entry, temperatures stayed consistently low, plummeting to -24 degrees Fahrenheit. The combination of freezing temperatures and gusty winds made it dangerous to spend extended periods of time outside.

6. February 3, 1996: This day enters the history books as one of the coldest for Chicago, with a recorded temperature of -23 degrees Fahrenheit. The city experienced a winter storm that brought heavy snowfall and below-zero temperatures.

7. January 19, 1994: Chicago endured another brutally cold day in 1994, with the temperature reaching -22 degrees Fahrenheit. Schools were closed, and residents were advised to stay indoors to avoid the hazardous conditions outside.

8. January 18, 1994: Just the day before the previous entry, Chicagoans endured a similarly bone-chilling day, with a low temperature of -21 degrees Fahrenheit. The combined low temperatures and strong winds made it feel even colder outside.

9. December 22, 1989: As winter approached, Chicago was hit with subzero temperatures once again, reaching -21 degrees Fahrenheit. The city was also hit with heavy snowfall, causing transportation disruptions and dangerous road conditions.

10. December 24, 1872: This historic Christmas Eve in 1872 brought Chicago its coldest temperature at the time, a chilling -21 degrees Fahrenheit. The record stood for over a century before being surpassed in the 1980s.


1. Is it safe to go outside during extreme cold temperatures?
– It is generally not advised to spend extended periods of time outside during extreme cold temperatures, as it can lead to frostbite and hypothermia. If you must go outside, dress appropriately and limit your exposure.

2. What should I wear to stay warm during Chicago’s coldest days?
– To stay warm during Chicago’s coldest days, it is recommended to dress in layers, including a warm winter coat, hat, gloves, scarf, and insulated boots. Covering exposed skin is crucial in preventing frostbite.

3. How do extreme cold temperatures affect daily life in Chicago?
– Extreme cold temperatures in Chicago can disrupt daily life, leading to school closures, transportation delays, and increased energy consumption. It is important to stay updated on weather announcements and take necessary precautions.

4. Does Chicago experience more extreme cold temperatures due to its location near Lake Michigan?
– Yes, Chicago’s location near Lake Michigan can contribute to extreme cold temperatures, as cold air blowing over the relatively warmer lake leads to lake-effect snow and lower wind chills.

5. Have there been any recent records broken for cold temperatures in Chicago?
– The top 10 coldest days listed in this blog post date back to the 1980s and 1990s. However, it is possible that Chicago has experienced cold temperatures in more recent years that did not break historical records.

6. How does Chicago prepare for extreme cold weather?
– Chicago has various measures in place to prepare for extreme cold weather, including snow removal plans, school and business closure protocols, emergency management systems, and warming centers for those in need.

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