CHICAGO — If you walked outside of your home on Monday or Tuesday this week, chances are you may have been overcome by a sensation not felt in months.
For the first time this year, temperatures in the Chicagoland area dipped below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and all of a sudden, that heavy down parka you bought from the Fashion Outlets in Rosemont is becoming a not-too-far-in-the-future reality.
While Midwesterners are seasoned veterans when it comes to battling back the blistering cold as it arrives every year, the same old question remains:
How cold is it going to get this winter? And how much is it going to snow?
Fear not, semi-depressed Bears fans, the WGN weather team has some inside info on what may be lurking right around the corner.
According to the latest 3-month temperature and precipitation outlooks for December through February, the Chicago area is predicted to have an average temperature of around 26.4 degrees, which is par for the course when it comes to average temperatures in that timeframe.
When it comes to snowfall, the expectation is that Chicagoland will be receiving more than the average, which sits around 5.77 inches over winter’s three coldest months.
There are several factors that support these findings, even though the Climate Prediction Center hasn’t released their official winter predictions yet.
La Nina conditions have led to abnormally cold waters building up Southwest of the United States in the equatorial Pacific (think of this as the area from Peru to Australia in the Pacific Ocean).
Further north in the Pacific, there currently exists abnormally warm waters from the Gulf of Alaska to Japan, with the warmest waters — a ‘hotspot,’ if you will — being found near the Aleutian Islands.
Now some may think, warm waters to the North are a good thing when it comes to winter temperatures, right?
Not necessarily. Those warm waters could force polar air pockets to travel South down the middle of North America, with Chicago being on the Eastern edge of a possible path for those air pockets. If Chicago falls in the path of polar air, winter temperatures could be far worse than average with snowfall rising high above normal levels (Remember the Polar Vortex of Jan. 2019?).
Those warm water conditions to the North, paired with cold water conditions to the Southwest, may mean those heavy winter coats could be put to more use than they were at the same time last year.