Life Stories

Were the winters of 1976-7 through 1978-79 the harshest in Chicago weather history?

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Dear Tom,

In my memory the winters of 1976-7 through 1978-79 were the harshest in Chicago weather history. Is this correct?

Thomas Langforte,

Dear Thomas,

The three winters starting with the winter of 1976-77 hit with a severity this area had never seen before and has never seen since. In combination, they are the three coldest consecutive winters (Dec-Jan-Feb) in Chicago weather history. They combined extended spells of barbaric cold with snowfalls of 82.3 inches in 1977-78 and the record-breaking 89.7 inches in 1978-79, amounts never before experienced here. Winter 1978-79 produced 16 straight sub-freezing days in January and 23 days in late January-February. The record for consecutive sub-freezing days is 43, from Dec. 28, 1976, to Feb. 8, 1977. The winter of 1978-79 also featured the record for continuous snow cover of 100 days.