The Chicago area has a chance to reach temperatures in the mid-50s this weekend, and we have El Nino to thank for it.
Despite earlier predictions that the city would see another frigid winter, this year’s El Nino – one of the strongest on record – continues to impact the season’s temperatures across the nation.
Clouds are expected to gradually break across metro Chicago Thursday to give way to partial sunshine and melt any residual snow left from the winter storm that blanketed the city earlier this week.
After a cold start to Friday, a nice stretch of weather is set to follow.
Saturday will bring lots of sunshine, with a high of 55 degrees – a staggering 17 degrees higher than the average for Dec. 5.
El Nino is characterized by unusually warm sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean along the equator. The shift in temperatures can cause a change in weather patterns thousands of miles away – including in Chicago.
In late fall forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted the phenomenon would continue in the Northern Hemisphere until peaking in the early winter months and likely weakening in spring of 2016.
The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center reported Illinois had an increased chance for above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation for the months of December, January and February.
That doesn’t mean area residents won’t need their winter coats and snow shovels, however.
According to the state climatologist, other factors come into play when determining the winter weather and even a mild winter can contain short periods of intense cold and heavy snow, just like we have seen twice this season.