Cold and Colder: Is Chicago's Winter Blast a Sign of What's to Come?

If you’ve been thinking that it “feels like winter outside" in Chicago, you’re absolutely right!

Meteorologist Paul Deanno joined the NBC 5 Storm Team in October and forecasts Chicago weather on NBC 5 News at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Yes. Yes. And NO! 

Yes, it’s quite cold outside. Thursday’s high temperature of 31 degrees is the coldest day in Chicago since March 7 (245 days ago), and it’s the average high for Jan. 2. If you’ve been thinking that it “feels like winter outside," you’re absolutely right! 

Yes, it’s going to be even COLDER next week. Highs will likely not even make it to 30 degrees next Monday through Wednesday. That will be even colder than what is normal for the middle of winter. It’ll also be up to 25 degrees colder than the mid-November average (which is in the low-50s). 

But no, this autumn cold snap does not guarantee that we will have a “rough” or a “long” winter. It may end up being exactly that, but what’s happening now will not be the reason for it. This pattern is likely to last another week or two at a minimum, but longer-range outlooks don’t suggest a continuation of well-below-average temperatures in the long term. 

For example, the Climate Prediction Center (or CPC) creates longer-range outlooks on a daily basis. The outlooks that extend out to 14 days from now do call for a continuation of cold weather for Chicago, and anywhere within 500 miles of Chicago for that matter. It’s not just here: Dallas, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and New York will share in our winter-like temperatures. 

Looking into the winter months, the CPC has a three-month outlook which encompasses November, December, and January. That outlook calls for “equal chances” of above- or below-average temperatures for the first half of winter. We know it’ll be cold here (it’s Chicago!), but we don’t know HOW cold it’ll be. There currently isn’t a leading indicator pointing either direction. 

So grab a cup of hot chocolate, enjoy (or endure) this week and next week’s cold snap, and don’t worry too much about what it means for winter. We simply don’t know yet!

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