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Climate & Environment

The city lies within the humid continental climate zone, and experiences four distinct seasons. Summers are warm & humid with average high temperatures of 80-84°F (27-29°C) and lows of 61-65°F (16-19°C). Winters are cold, snowy and windy with temperatures below freezing. Spring and Fall are mild with low humidity. According to the National Weather Service, Chicago’s highest official temperature reading of 107°F (42°C) was recorded on June 1, 1934. The lowest temperature of -27°F (-33°C) was recorded on January 20, 1985. Along with long, hot dry spells in the summer, Chicago can suffer extreme winter cold spells. In the entire month of January 1977, the temperature did not rise above 31°F (-0.5°C). The average temperature that month was around 10°F (-12°C).

Chicago’s yearly precipitation averages about 34 inches (860 millimeters). Summer is typically the rainiest season, with short-lived rainfall and thunderstorms more common than prolonged rainy periods. Winter precipitation tends to be more snow than rain. Chicago's snowiest winter on record was that of 1978-79, with 89.7 inches (228 cm) of snow in total. The winter of 2007-08, with more than 61 inches (155 cm) of snow, was the snowiest in nearly three decades, and the winter of 2008/2009 produced just over 50 inches (127 cm). This marked the first time in three decades that back-to-back winters produced 50 inches or more of snow. Average winter snowfall is normally around 38 inches (96.52 cm). The highest one-day snowfall total in Chicago history was 18.3 inches (46.5 cm) on January 3, 1999. Chicago’s highest one-day rainfall total was 6.63 inches (168.4 mm) on September 13, 2008. The previous record of 6.49 inches (164 mm) had been set on August 14, 1987. The record for yearly rainfall is 50.86 inches set in 2008; 1983 was the wettest year before with 49.35 inches.

Strong wind gusts in the central business district are caused by the channeling of winds between tall buildings; the nickname "windy city," often applied to Chicago, does not, however, refer to the average wind speed, which is no greater than in many other parts of the country. Chicagoans instead attribute the nickname to their reputed penchant for talking proudly about their city.





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